Patriots Ready For Denver This Time Around

NEPD Staff Writer: Jason Cappell 

The last time the Patriots faced off against the Denver Broncos it ended in heartbreak for New England.  Not only did the Patriots have to travel across the country but they were also decimated by injuries at the time and really didn’t have the weapons needed to beat Peyton Manning.  However; this time the result could be very different.

Though New England suffered key injuries to defensive stalwarts Chandler Jones and Jerod Mayo, their secondary is now as good as ever and are physical enough to slow down Denver’s weapons.

Last week New England faced a tall task going up against the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, and remarkably passed with flying colors. Darrelle Revis matched up for most of the day with Brandon Marshall and proved to be worth every penny. Revis didn’t allow any completions to the receivers he covered and also managed his second interception of the season. Revis’ dominant showing couldn’t have come at a better time, and the Patriots will once again need their shut down corner at his best against Demariyus Thomas.

In his first true test of the season, Brandon Browner was every bit as good as advertised, and was able to shadow both Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery when called upon.

This season Denver tight end Julius Thomas has been a matchup nightmare, scoring nine touchdowns while proving to be too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties.  But this time around the Patriots may have an answer for the Broncos’ weapon as Browner’s rare size and speed gives him an intriguing set of cover skills to matchup against Thomas.

This season the Patriots’ defensive strength has successfully limited explosive plays. To date they are the only team that hasn’t allowed a pass play of 40 yards or more, and the acquisitions of Revis and Browner are a big reason why.

While the Patriots have an arsenal at their disposal to top the reigning AFC champs it will certainly be a challenge. Denver has amassed 23 sacks in only 7 games thanks to the return of Von Miller and the free agency addition of Demarcus Ware.

After a slow start to the season the Patriots offensive line has greatly improved, but Ware and Miller will be their toughest test of the season. The Broncos defense has had a major overhaul since last year, and the additions of T.J. Ward and former Patriot Aqib Talib could pose problems for Tom Brady and his offense.

Since the last meeting between the two, Denver’s defense has vastly improved but so has the New England offense. This time around the Patriots will have a healthy Rob Gronkowski who is coming off arguably his best performance as a pro. He caught nine passes for 149 yards, tying a career high. Not only do the Patriots have Gronk back, but Julian Edelman is now no longer Tom Brady’s lone target at the receiver position. In the past month Brandon LaFell has come on strong and is fresh off an 11 catch 124-yard performance against the Chicago Bears.

With LaFell now in the mix, joining the reliable Gronkowski and sure handed Julian Edelman, the Patriots are far better equipped than they were in the AFC Championship when they had to trust Austin Collie to make plays.  As good as Denver’s defense has been this year New England is perfectly capable of creating big problems for them.

After four weeks of ineffectiveness, that saw them ranked as low as 29th in total offense, the Patriots have turned things around. Tom Brady was named AFC player of the Month and played absolutely “lights out” in October.

In their last four games the Patriots have averaged close to 40 points per game. Their most recent outing had them put up 51 points in a game where Tom Brady completed more than 85 percent of his passes for 354 yards and five scores.

Had the Patriots played Denver four weeks ago no one would have given Brady and company a chance, especially not with their lackluster offense. But fast-forward a month and it’s clear that the Patriots are ready for their biggest test yet. Their offense is clicking, Gronk is healthy, Browner is up to speed and most importantly, Revis is still Revis.

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13 Responses to “Patriots Ready For Denver This Time Around”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    Brandon Lafell has improved, but still can’t catch consistently and where is Dobson and Tyms? I hate saying this because i like the player but Devin McCourty is starting to become the liability of the Pats secondary!!!

    • DMC413 says:

      LaFell=’s enough consistency for defense not ClOGGING the middle of the field in an attempt to lock down Gronk at a fair market value price, IM BUYING.

      A more consistent X WR that would accomplish the above mentioned would cost that much more…. WR pay goes up exponentially with consistency, true story!!!

  2. matty says:

    Good game; looks like D-line and linebacker issues are improving. But we still have a weak link in Chung. I’d rather see Harmon or even Ebner get snaps now to see if they can play. Chung is not doing anything well right now. Small, slow, can’t cover, and, worst of all, can’t tackle. Wish we had someone like TJ Ward.

    • steve earle says:

      coulda shouda about Ward but to late now. I’m not convinced either Harmon or Ebner would be an upgrade over Chung. By this point in the season if either was able to unseat Chung they would have done so by now. Don’t expect any change until after next FA or draft next year. Speaking of, a guy I like is Kurtis Drummond S Mich St.

      • DMC413 says:

        What are you’ll talking about, Chung did fine…. A perfectly thrown ball to the outside shoulder to Julius Thomas for the TD that I highly doubt any defender would of been able to defend was the only play he gave up that was of any significance!?!?!

        • steve earle says:

          What are you talking about? My reply was to Matty who said he would rather see Harmon or Ebner at SAF. I said neither have been able to unseat Chung— meaning Chung is playing better then those two both of whom were given every opportunity in camp and through nine games now to show that they can do a better job. They haven’t. Therefore Chung shouldn’t be replaced. As for drafting or signing a FA next year to compete to start at the position to upgrade that’s a no brainier. Bill should always try to make the team better after all we are not talking about an all pro caliber player in Chung.

        • DMC413 says:

          Steve,
          I meant to reply to matty but I guess I accidently replied to you… excuse the sparratic firing off… I myself am a fan of Harmon, thought he was going to break out this year but like you said if neither Ebner/Harmon or anyone for that count hasn’t unseated him yet then it probably won’t any time soon. But I have to give it to Chung he has come in and played as good as anyone else at the position in the league… true story! The Peyton/JT TD that was scored on him was an example of Peyton’s precision passing that Peyton and only a select few of QB’s can make…. even Sean Taylor or someone of that mold probably wouldn’t of been able to brake that play up.

        • Jack T says:

          Chung’s on track for a 90+ tackle season. He’s not going anywhere.

        • steve earle says:

          Sorry DMC guess I jumped to a conclusion. It did look like we were saying the same thing after I reread your reply the next day. Glad we’re on the same page, again sorry for my confusion.

  3. GM-in-Training says:

    The Patriots did a lot right. They messed with Peyton’s head, got physical with his receivers, and came up on big plays. The cold, windy conditions helped. The punt return TD was superb…and also somewhat lucky. Without two turnovers and a special teams TD early, this game would not have been so one-sided.

    All other things being equal, the Pats would really benefit from getting home-field advantage locked up. They have tie-breaker on the Bronco’s at the moment.

  4. Oppitz says:

    Yeah, great win but we need to finish the season playing like that.

    Last year we won this game and ended up playing in Denver when it matters most.

  5. Jack T says:

    Impressive win. Good call, Jason.

  6. kevan says:

    pats 34-27

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