Take 14, Sunday Night.
The New England Patriots will host the Denver Broncos this Sunday Night in frigid Foxborough.
Emblazoned with the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady clash and sprinkled with headlines including Wes Welker’s switching of teams and the 14°F nighttime forecast, this battle will seize the nation’s eye. Brady enters the game with a 9-4 record against the former Indianapolis Colt, but that statistic will at least be temporarily erased come Sunday Night.
Brady enters this game leading the 7-3 New England Patriots. The offense has been completely transformed after an offseason of change. Vicissitudes such as the departures of Welker and TE Aaron Hernandez as well as the emergence of the young running backs have been felt greatly.
RB’s Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen—who was recently activated off of the IR—have changed the Patriots’ offense. When both halves of the tandem are healthy, the backfield alone is multidimensional.
TE Rob Gronkowski also had his share of injuries. In the infancy of the regular season, Gronk was sidelined constantly with a splattering of wounds. Parallel to his health, the offensive line stability has been tumultuous.
Rookie WR’s Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins took time to transition into the NFL, but their trust with Brady has been increasing steadily. Additionally, WR Danny Amendola, a free agent acquisition, has alleviated some of the production lost by Welker’s departure.
Welker is now on the other side of the rivalry. The 9-1 Broncos have been cruising all season long. Manning’s 34 touchdown mark has set a tone for Denver’s offense.
Manning’s arsenal of targets includes Welker, WR’s Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, and breakout TE Julius Thomas. The abundance of reliable wideouts has been a problem for opposing defenses.
RB Knowshon Moreno had a solid start to the year, but the Broncos are increasing the quantity of rookie RB Montee Ball’s touches each week. Against the Kansas City Chiefs, Ball scored not one but two touchdowns against a stout defense.
The offensive line is banged up, especially at center and left tackle. Pressure has leaked through the trenches at times, but last week the line kept Peyton on his feet throughout the game.
Denver’s run defense has been A1, thus teams have been exploiting the hobbled secondary. CB Champ Bailey has been injured for the majority of the season.
Sunday Night’s Manning-Brady clash won’t fall short of its sky-high expectations. Both teams have the potential to pull out a win, and it will come down to the play of the quarterbacks.