The Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots are set to face each other tonight in a big matchup of two juggernauts.
The obvious storyline is Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady, but there is another story line of positioning oneself for a bye week. That is another reason why this November game is a big one.
New England is a better home team this year, finding ways to win, and they are great in the cold. Both of those are advantages of New England tonight with the weather expected to be very cold.
A few other things in favor of New England tonight is they are great against finesse teams, better when they are mad, and when the other QB is getting all the attention. All of this bodes well for New England.
The biggest thing that is against New England tonight is the fact they have a few players that will play with injuries and they may be missing a few due to injuries too. All on the defensive side of the ball, which makes it worse.
The game plan for New England will be to play physical on defense. They have to in this game. New England will need to be aggressive, confusing, and physical with Denver all night to stop Peyton enough times for a win. The Pats secondary can be physical and I think they can matchup well tonight against the receivers of the Broncos. They matchup well when everybody is healthy in the secondary so that will play a big part of it with how even it is.
My biggest worry is on the defensive line because they don’t generate much pressure at all without blitzing the QB. Peyton Manning has been great against the blitz all season but New England brings in very effective and creative blitzes that I’m sure we will see tonight. The Broncos offensive line has been struggling and can be a problem in a game so if New England is getting pressure early then New England will have a great shot at winning. The Broncos line isn’t great and if the coverage can stay solid, you may see a few coverage sacks against Denver. I do believe New England will get some pressure on Manning and we can all hope it is a lot. But, I think New England will be aggressive, but smart, and we will see a few blitzes tonight to try to get some licks on Manning.
The game plan for the Patriots on offense is to score points. Seems pretty simple but if the Broncos get pressure on Brady it will be very difficult. New England doesn’t want to settle for field goals so tonight they need to be great in the redzone.
I like Gronk and Amendola getting a lot work tonight and doing most of the damage for New England because the Pats will look for a lot of first downs and points in this game, and those two are great at doing both. I also think they are mismatches for Denver and have Brady’s trust the most so he will naturally look to them a lot. New England will go into the game with the plan to play ball control and keep the ball away from Manning for as long as possible. But that plan can change in a minute if Denver scores fast, and easily.
I think we will see a different type of ball control for New England tonight than in the Monday night loss to Carolina. They ran huddle offense a lot and was really slow but tonight they will run more of a no huddle offense. I think it will be a no huddle offense that requires 10 – 12 plays every drive to use the clock and play ball control like that. New England is better when they run the no huddle and they want to score a lot so they will use it tonight.
The Patriots also have to run the ball and not give up on it. They got real cute Monday night on a 3rd and 1 close to the goal line and tried for a TD pass that didn’t work which lead the field goal unit onto the field. Tonight they need to keep plays like that simple, if it is that short and your running game is working, just run the football and pick up the first down. They don’t need to abandoned the run too fast like they have in the past and try to mix it in so the play action can become a big factor.
This may actually be the biggest thing on offense for New England and that is to protect the football. Stevan Ridley has a habit of fumbling and Brady can get greedy and throw some picks, but neither of that can happen tonight for New England to win. Denver doesn’t turn it over a lot, and neither does New England so they need to win that battle or at least break even with Denver on it.
New England has to be smart tonight but just play their ball and they should be fine.