Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: Broncos at Patriots


Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have had a decade's worth of head-to-head AFC bouts between their respective teams, and while one of those teams has changed, the intrigue remains. Manning, the former Indianapolis Colt, now lines up behind a Denver Broncos offensive line.

Manning proved last week that he's still the same player, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over the Oakland Raiders. Brady was just as good in beating the Buffalo Bills, tossing for 340 yards and three scores while adding a touchdown on the ground. New England (2-2) has a good chance to take sole possession of the division, and the Broncos (2-2) seek a share of the lead in the AFC West.


Healthy Von Miller. Miller, the Broncos' top pass rusher, had a cast on his thumb both times he faced Brady and the Patriots' offensive line last year. Miller has lost the cast, and Denver will need every bit of his productivity in trying to rattle Brady. They'll try to get to Brady with four rushers so they can keep seven in coverage against New England's versatile pass-catchers. We'll see if that's enough.

Turnover-happy defense. The Patriots forced six turnovers last week against the Bills, grabbing four interceptions and recovering two fumbles. When two great quarterbacks face off, the turnover margin is often times the deciding factor. Sunday will be no different. (Photo: Jeffrey Beall, Flickr)

A run game? New England has rushed the ball more often than all but two teams, which is a different look than we're used to from its pass-happy offensive attack. Rookie Brandon Bolden and second-year tailback Stevan Ridley each eclipsed the 100-yard mark last week, and success on the ground will be crucial in controlling the clock and keeping Manning off the field.

Stopping the run. Broncos running back Willis McGahee is averaging 4.7 yards a carry. Meanwhile, the Patriots' run defense has been pretty good this year, as it is ranked seventh in the league in yards-per-game with 85.2 and has yet to give up a run of longer than 20 yards.
A week in Patriots posts at

Week 5 AFC East game picks: Broncos at Patriots

Around-the-Web AFC East power rankings - Week 5

Manning fortunate to have ex-Patriot Koppen around

Patriots leaning a little more on run so far in 2012