Denver, CO. So here we are, it is “Patriots Week”, as this much-anticipated 2012 regular season game is finally here. When the schedule came out back in April, this was one of the games that all die-hard NFL fans had to have circled. Broncos versus Patriots, but a somewhat bigger matchup is the long-standing rivalry between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. This game will have the attention of the entire NFL world this Sunday, for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s because of this individual rivalry between two of the greatest signal callers in NFL history, or because it’s an important matchup of two 2-2 AFC teams, or because it’s a rematch of the AFC playoff game from last season…..storylines aplenty in this one, as there should be something for everyone come Sunday. Both the Broncos and Patriots have shown so far this season that they have some key ingredients that may make each or both teams serious playoff powers this January. But both Denver and New England have also shown that they are susceptible to making mistakes against good opponents. This matchup this week is more than just a 2012 regular season game. It’s a grudge match of sorts, and even though it is just October, there is plenty on the line. The loser goes to 2-3, and will be fighting an uphill battle to climb back into the AFC race. But the winner will receive some much-needed momentum, and will immediately be one of the favorites in the Conference. Both teams are coming off victories in week 4, and are feeling good about their chances in this upcoming battle in Foxboro. Although both Denver and New England each have reasons why they should win this game, too many things point to the Patriots coming out on top. Here are the 7 reasons why the Broncos will come up short in week 5……
1 – Brady Over Manning - Although they have both had success against each other over the years, Brady has the decided edge when it comes to wins. Brady has won 8 of their 12 all-time matchups, and the Patriots have proven to be a thorn in Peyton Manning’s side, especially in Foxboro.
2 – Broncos Horrible Safety Play - Having weak safeties against any team is not good, but against New England, it typically is a major problem. Mike Adams and Rahim Moore are potentially in for a long day this Sunday, as they have to contend with The Gronk. Gronkowski poses a huge problem for any defense, but especially against this Broncos D where their safeties are some of the NFL’s worst.
3 – Patriots Home Record - The loss by New England to Arizona a few weeks ago was a shocker for many reasons. One of them was the fact that the Patriots hardly ever lose at home, especially since Tom Brady took control of the team back in 2001. This team loves playing in Foxboro, as they are 23-2 in their last 25 home contests.
4 – Peyton Manning Not What He Used To Be - Say what you will about Manning’s great game against Oakland in week 4, and he did have a fantastic outing. However, there are certain teams that you shouldn’t judge players against, and the Raiders are one of them. In the previous three games against Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Houston, Peyton looked a bit off, and his decision-making was surprisingly erratic. His arm seems to be ok so far, but not quite what it was even two years ago. He will need to be extremely precise this week, and against good teams, he just hasn’t been so far in 2012.
5 – Patriots 2011 Playoff Win - The Broncos got dominated in every way possible in the playoff loss last year in Foxboro. Yes, the team is quite different now, with a lot of different players. However, many of the same players return to the scene where Denver lost 45-10. Think the nightmare from last January will come back into their minds when they hit the field this Sunday? Yeah, I think so.
6 – Brandon Lloyd and Josh McDaniels - Brandon Lloyd has been a class act during his entire career, and had his best season as a pro in Denver in 2010. He totaled 1,448 yards and 11 TD’s as a Bronco that year. Heading into 2011, he was seeking a contract extension and wanted to stay in Denver. Instead, he was shipped out of town, and on to St. Louis. He signed with New England during this offseason, and has been one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in 2012. Think Lloyd will want to exact some revenge on the organization that dealt him away last year?……For Josh McDaniels, his stay in Denver ended up going south quickly, as he was fired in 2010. He is now the offensive coordinator once again for the Patriots, where he has always done well. Like Lloyd’s situation, ya think Josh will want to stick it to the Broncos just a little more than any other opponent? Yeah, there’s a good chance he will.
7 – Patriots Expect To Win, Broncos Just Hope To - The cultures for both New England and Denver are some of the NFL’s best, however, there is one big difference currently. The Patriots simply expect to win every single game they play, because they are the most successful franchise in the NFL over the past decade. On the other hand, the Broncos are in the process of regaining that sort of feel, where they expect to win each week. They are on their way to that, but aren’t there yet. With Peyton and several young players at key positions, the team is still learning how to play together and that may take all year to work itself out. Denver should get hot as the schedule eases up a bit in November and December, but they just won’t have enough to get the win against New England…..Patriots 38, Broncos 27…..