Week 5 Monday 5:00 at Gillette – The game has been moved to Monday night because the Patriots had two more COVID tests come up positive in Stephon Gilmore and Beau Allen. Gilmore actually had dinner with Cam Newton the night before Newton recorded his positive test the previous week. The Patriots have been preparing by having virtual meetings all week. The team had a 100% negative testing on Friday which may open up the possibility of both Newton and Gilmore playing Monday. I am anticipating both will be out and Jarrett Stidham will be starting.
Drew Lock is the starter with Brett Rypien as the backup. Lock was out last week with Rypien getting his 1st start in a 37-28 win at the lowly NY Jets. Rypien was 19-31 for 242yds, 2 TDs, but had 3 INT. If he gets the nod again he will be up against one of the best secondaries in the league, with or without DPOY Stephon Gilmore. Melvin Gordon ran 23 time for 107yds and 2 TDs. He had a game sealing 43 yd TD run late, which skewered his 4.7 average. The Patriots run defense is much improved.
If Drew Lock were to play, his statistics are extremely misleading. He got his 1st start in week 13 and finished 4-1. A closer look showed that he played extremely weak pass defenses, played 3 of those games at altitude in Mile High Stadium, a fourth game in a dome. Further he had excellent weather, no precipitation and on one game in the 30’s. In fact 3 days before Christmas the game in Denver was played at 67 degrees.
Garret Boles the starting LT is a liability and has a habit of drawing holding calls. Denver has a new Offensive Coordinator in Pat Shurmur. If you stack the box on 1st and 2nd down, Denver rarely checks out to a pass play. In fact they had the 3rd worse Early Down Efficiency in the league. Running Back Phillip Lindsey might be back for this game but how much he plays remains to be seen.
At WR the Broncos took a big blow when Cortland Sutton went down for the season. Denver does have two dynamic rookies in Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.
It looks like up and coming TE Noah Fant will be out for this game. That takes away their most efficient passing formation of 1RB, 2 TE, 2 WR. They were 54% in that formation against a 5 DB set which the Patriots play almost exclusively.
Last year Denver played 281 pass played from the 1RB, 1TE and 3WR formation against 5 DBs. This was by far their favorite. They were only 41% successful despite playing the 4th easiest schedule in the league. They were not facing the Patriots secondary.
Another big loss was Von Miller season ending injury. They have Bradley Chubb on the other edge. They have only given up an average of 109 yards on the ground per game. This is misleading because teams don’t have to run because the Denver CBs are so bad. Denver got its 1st win of the season against the lowly Jests (when will Adam Gase get fired?). It was a 37-28 high scoring affair. Denver hasn’t seen anything like the Patriots running game that’s averaging 180 yards per game. Also the weather is supposed to be rainy and windy on Monday with the remnants of Hurricane Delta passing through.
It’s Bill Belichick. Despite all the distractions, issues with COVID, Free Agent losses, and opt outs that led to the entire LB corps not playing, Belichick has this defense playing at a high level. They stuffed KC running game and had his team in position to beat both KC and Seattle on the road. Belichick is 36-1 against 1st and 2nd year QB’s. Both Lock and Rypien are in their 2nd season. The pats secondary won’t drop two INTs in the same game again this season. Calhoun’s INT should have counted last week and that would have been a game changer. Look for this to be utter domination by the Pats on both sides of the ball.
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