By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are back in action Sunday Night to face the Broncos. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.
1. Will the Patriots “pick their spots” to play fast on offense? The match-up last year saw quarterback Tom Brady us the “hurry up offense” at times to throw off an aggressive Denver Defense.
I think it is important at times to play fast against the Broncos, and I would certainly use this style to run the ball. The “hurry up” is not just effective in the passing game, as it can be a true weapon on the ground as well.
2. Can the Patriots get the ball to running back Shane Vereen early and often against the Broncos? Vereen led the Patriots in the last game with receptions, but only ran the ball once. I think you need to feed him the ball in the running and passing game.
3. Can the Patriots step up their “red zone offense” against the Panthers? This might be the biggest key in the game. The Patriots cannot afford to kick field goals in this game once entering the red-zone.
This game has the potential to be a shoot-out, so touchdowns are necessary, and Brady now has the weapons to get seven, instead of three when in the red-zone. If you see the Patriots settling for field goals in this game, you will know they are in trouble.
4. Will acting Denver head coach Jack Del Rio play his standard defense against Brady? A huge advantage I feel the Patriots have is that Brady knows how to beat the Denver defense.
In Brady’s history against a Del Rio defense, it has been so easy for him as he usually knows what is coming. Unless Del Rio makes changes, and adjusts during the game, the Patriots should have little problem moving the ball.
5. Can the Patriots defense disguise their coverage against Peyton Manning? Listen, they aren’t going to do anything that Manning hasn’t seen before, but they can make it difficult for him to read what defense the Patriots are playing.
The idea here is to try to slow down an excellent offense, and it will be difficult to do, but you need to try. I hope the Patriots are switching often from zone to man to man looks in the secondary. Just maybe it will pay off in this game.
This is my fifth Brady vs. Manning, and the Patriots are 3-1 in those games. There is no question that this game should be close as the Patriots can score to keep up with the Broncos.
I have much respect for Manning, and know this is a huge challenge for the Patriots, but they have a few factors working in their favor. First, it is going to be very cold, and Manning over his career has not played well in cold weather.
The other factor is the head coach right now for the Broncos. I have a feeling Del Rio will be playing checkers, while coach Bill Belichick will be playing chess. This is a huge advantage for the Patriots, and could be the difference of a field goal, so that is why I am predicting the Patriots win this game by three points.
If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.