Tom Brady and the Patriots return home to renew their storied rivalry with Peyton Manning, this time as a member of the Denver Broncos. The Patriots are fresh off an impressive performance vs. the Buffalo Bills where they scored 52 points and the Broncos are coming off a dominating all-around victory vs. Oakland. It’s an important game for both teams as the Patriots try to get back over the.500 mark and take control of the AFC East. Follow this thread throughout the day for all the latest game day news, including inactives, injury news and our perspective on the game.
9:30am – It’s a fall like day in New England with game time temperatures expected to be in the low 50s. The Patriots have already declared Steve Gregory and Julian Edelman OUT for the game, which means they have five more inactives to be declared today. The name everyone will be watching is Aaron Hernandez. He practiced on Thursday/Friday and was listed as questionable on the official injury report.
9:45am – Dan Koppen will make his first start in the NFL as a member of another team when he starts at center for the Broncos this afternoon. The Broncos lost starting center JD Walton for the season last week, forcing Koppen into the lineup. If Koppen plays like he did this pre-season the Patriots will have a big advantage in the middle of the line of scrimmage. I look for the Patriots to attack Koppen and the A gaps to get pressure in Peyton’s face.
11:15am – There have been multiple reports today that Rob Gronkowski has been playing through “significant pain” due to a hip and lingering back injury. Despite that he is expected to play vs. Denver, who he shedded in the playoffs last January. Aaron Hernandez accoring to ESPN is unlikley to play but, with the Patriots you can never be so sure.
1:00pm – Sal Palantonio on ESPN said he expects Brady to throw the ball more than 40 times, because the Broncos will be in base defense most of the game. While most people are expecting a shootout, I am expecting the Patriots defense to play better than the last two weeks. The one concern I do have is the safety play, Tavon Wilson and Patrick Chung, must be solid if the defense hopes to stop the Broncos consistently.
3:00pm – Aaron Hernandez, Dont’a Hightower, Steve Gregory, Michael Hoomanawanui, Matt Tennant, Julian Edelman and Jake Bequette are the announced inactives.
3:05pm – The Patriots only have two active TE’s – Daniel Fells and Rob Gronkowski. Look for a lot of three receiver sets. Rookie corner Alfonzo Dennard will be active for the first time this year.
3:10pm – With Steve Gregory out, Tavon Wilson should get his first start as a rookie. Fellow rookie Nate Ebner will probably see time as well – expect one of the two to make a big difference in the game, either for the good or bad.