Guess I can't post in the general Pats forum until I get to 100 posts, which should be sooner or later, but for now I'll just post here.
Anyway, I always make an appearance on these boards when the pats play Denver, and aside from last year, it's usually a good match up.
So what's different this year compared to last?
Defense, Defense, Defense...No Shanahan, No Cutler and Defense.
The D is completely different...for one, it's led by a very competent coordinator in Mike Nolan, who switched things up to a 3-4. This means Elvis Dumervil is now an LB, and he's had incredible success thus far with 7 sacks on the season.
The addition of Brian Dawkins has been HUGE. He brings an intensity this D has not had, and he's a significant upgrade over either of last year's safeties.
Andre Goodman has been brought in to play corner opposite Champ, and he's been a huge upgrade over Dre Bly. Champ's back to his old ways, DJ Williams is still one of the league's better linebackers, and Robert Ayers (rookie out of Tennessee) has quietly been very effective.
This D is for real. It may not be the best in the league (though statistically right now it is), but it's certainly a top 10 defense.
Offensively, McDaniels is really doing a great job. You'd be surprised to hear that Orton is the league's 8th rated passer right now, with a a QB rating close to 100. All he's doing is managing the game and not screwing up...no INTs to this point (although sooner or later he'll throw one, it'll probably be this game), no lost fumbles...although he has had a problem picking up the blitz.
That's the one criticism I have of him so far...the Broncos O-Line is one of the top 5 in football (ranked #1 by Yahoo)...it's pretty much exactly the same as last year's, and they only gave up 3 sacks all of last year. Orton's just had trouble recognizing it, and once it's there he can't avoid it like Cutler did. Another O-Line fact: Ryan Clady set a new NFL record after the game yesterday: 20 consecutive games without allowing a sack. He's also only played in 20 career games
You'll catch a break with Buckhalter being hurt...doesn't look like he'll play, and he's been fantastic so far, averaging over 7 yards per carry. Knowshon has been great though, a really tough runner with great moves. If it's just him and Lamont Jordan though, I don't expect us to get the 150 yards a game we've been getting so far. Should still see at least 100 rushing yards though next week out of this offense.
Gaffney's been a very pleasant surprise thus far, and Stokely has been fantastic, although he's been injured the last couple of weeks. Marshall is getting more and more comfortable by the week, and I expect him to get more and more receptions each week. Eddie Royal's been VERY quiet this season, but as Marshall picks it up, I think Royal will too.
There's a lot of depth with Denver at WR, Orton's got plenty of options.
That's pretty much it...Broncos are playing very, very well right now, they're very confident, they're at home, and their defense has been superb.
If Orton can continue to avoid the mistakes, I see no reason for this game to be more than 7 points one way or the other.
I'm looking forward to it.