By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots (10-3) are coming off of an away victory against the Redskins, and are back in action on Sunday to face the Denver Broncos (8-5) on the road at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.
WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live on WBZ Channel 4 at 4:15 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
The Broncos are coming off of a 13-10 home victory to the Chicago Bears last Sunday in overtime. It was another win for Denver where their quarterback would rally his team late in the game, and lead them to victory. This is a huge game for both teams.
On offense for Denver, there is no question that this unit is led by their quarterback Tim Tebow. He is a player that you can’t just go by his statistics to make a judgment. He can be a horrible quarterback for 3 quarters, but late in games, he seems to find a way to make plays when they are needed with his legs and his arm.
He has two decent weapons to throw to with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. He also has Willis McGahee at running back who is still getting the yards with a 4.6 yards per carry average.
On defense, this unit is really led by 3 players. They have 2 players that can really get after the quarterback with Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. These two teammates have combined for 19 sacks, and the Patriots offensive line will have their hands full.
The Broncos still have one of the best cornerbacks in the game in Champ Bailey. He is that classic shut-down corner, and Tom Brady better be careful throwing his way.
However, the Patriots might be able to expose the young safeties for the Broncos. You could see Brady going deep in this game.
The Patriots have traditionally had a hard time winning in Denver. I think this will be a close game, but I do see them pulling it out in the fourth quarter.
Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots need to get off to a fast start and build a lead. The Patriots have started games slowly offensively. I think it is imperative that the Patriots get up early on Denver, and make Tebow play from behind.
I am not saying they should use the hurry up offense. I am saying they need to score touchdowns early when they enter the red-zone. I really don’t feel that the Broncos can come back from a 14 point deficit early.
2.The offensive line needs to protect Tom Brady. This key has been a constant for most of the season, but I can’t say how important the line could be on Sunday. When you have two pass rushers that are playing at an elite level, it is important that this unit keep Brady clean as possible.
The offensive line has really stepped it up lately, and I feel confident that they can do it against the Broncos. I will be curious to see if this unit can hold up for 4 quarters, and do not tire out in the Mile High air.
3. The Patriots should not use the hurry up, and stick with their conventional offense. The Patriots should try to have a balanced attack in this game. The altitude could be a killer for the offense, so they are much better off moving the ball down the field methodically, or a quick strike with a long pass.
4. Tom Brady needs to open it up against the Broncos. I think there is an opportunity to throw long against a few young safeties for the Broncos. Brian Dawkins is questionable, and if he cannot play, Brady should take his shots down the field. All this will do is open up the middle of the field for the Patriots tight ends. Don’t laugh, but this is a game where we could see Chad Ochocinco or Tiquan Underwood make a difference.
5.The Patriots need to pressure Tim Tebow. I really feel this is an important key in this game. If the Patriots can get after Tebow while keeping him in the pocket, he could struggle for 4 quarters.
I would make sure he stays in the pocket, and blitz him often. The Patriots defense has nothing to lose as they are suspect as it is. Why not be aggressive, and try to make life difficult for Tebow?
I think the Patriots are going to end their bad play in Denver, and come out with a victory. I feel they will get far enough ahead that they can recover from a 4th quarter comeback from Tebow. It could end close as I am predicting a 24-21 Patriots victory against the Denver Broncos.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.