New England Patriots (10 – 0)
Denver Broncos (8 – 2)
In order to beat the Patriots, the Denver Broncos will need some perfection, too. They will have to play a perfect game.
There is no Peyton Manning to match up against Tom Brady this time. We’re not going to see Brady/Manning XV. Instead we have Brady/Osweiler I. If this game becomes a duel between the two quarterbacks (with all due respect to Brock Osweiler) turn out the lights and give the Patriots the win.
Not only does Osweiler need to be better than he was last week (when he was AFC Offensive Player of the Week), the entire team has to be mistake free. That’s what it’s going to take to beat the Patriots. That’s all: perfection.
KEY MATCH UP
The Patriots have an incredible amount of injuries on offense. Frankly, they have key injuries on defense, too, but the offensive ones have really put them in a hole. It’s amazing they’ve been able to keep winning. Will this week, with Danny Amendola not making the trip to Denver, be the week that losing a multitude of skill players on the offensive side of the ball catches up to New England? Perhaps.
What the loss of THREE starting wide outs means for the Broncos is that they can really turn their attention to stopping the unstoppable: Rob Gronkowski. They can double team him and, hopefully, make life miserable for him. If Gronk can’t get going, the Patriots may have a tough time scoring Sunday.
The X-Factor is Osweiler. If he can play within himself and not let this moment overwhelm him, the Broncos have a better than even chance at the upset. Last week, the Brocket Launcher was calm and collected and played mistake free football – in terms of turnovers. He did, however, take five sacks and while those all cannot be blamed on him, Denver doesn’t want to see itself in a lot of third and longs. If Osweiler can manage the game, dump the ball off and play turnover free, Denver can win.
This is a big one. It’s a big test. Frankly, the last time the Broncos faced a test this big it was against the Green Bay Packers, and we know how that one turned out. It wasn’t just Peyton Manning who willed the team to victory that day. No, the entire squad played terrific football. If they can replicate that effort, they can come away with the win Sunday night.
I think they will.
What a difference a week makes.