Sunday, November 29, 6:30pm. Mile High, Denver.
If it wasn’t for Peyton Manning’s injured foot, this New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos match-up would be the NFL’s two best quarterback’s going head-to-head, but enter Brock Osweiler.
The new Broncos quarterback is temporarily filling in for the injured Peyton Manning who tore a plantar fascia in his left foot, and this could be the changing of the guard for Denver which needed a shot in the arm after losing back-to-back games.
Osweiler lead the Broncos to a 17-15 victory over Chicago last Sunday where he showed good composure against a blitz-heavy Bears defence.
“He did a really good job,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “We didn’t protect him very good in the first half, had to take his lumps in a couple situations but kept his composure [and] would come back to make the next play. He did a heck of a job.”
Osweiler credited his play due to the four seasons learning behind Manning who leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdown passes.
“I don’t know if anybody believed me, but I really was telling the truth – I have not wasted a single day sitting behind Peyton,” Osweiler said. “I fully recognize that he might be the greatest quarterback to ever play, if not one of the greatest. I wasn’t going to let one of those days go by where I didn’t learn something. I’ve been very appreciative for my situation.”
Osweiler will need to be firing on all cylinders as the Broncos face the undefeated New England Patriots which are looking to iron out some of the creases suffered in past weeks.
Tom Brady is being Tom Brady – passing for 25 touchdowns and only four intercepts, and despite losing noted receivers, Brady has been able to lead his offence to 424.0 yards per game.
The Patriots are the favourites to win the game, but Bovada have them as only -3 favourites which should set up for a tightly-contested contest between two of the best teams in the NFL.
Broncos vs. Patriots betting and team records
Denver Broncos +125 (+3)
New England Patriots -145 (-3) at Bovada
It comes as no surprise that the 10-0 Patriots are the favoured team and the Pats will probably close out the regular season as favourites, but Denver are tough at home (3-1) and their stingy defence will make it tough on Brady to complete a high percentage of passes.
The Broncos (8-2) have lost just one game at Mile High this season [vs. Kansas City 13-29], but they rebounded well with a hard-fought 17-15 win over the Bears last week. They also managed to notch a win over the highly-touted Green Bay 29-10 which will give them plenty of confidence.
The bookmakers believe there will only be a field goal difference and we’re seeing the game in the same light. We’re expecting a tight battle between two division leaders that will desperately want momentum heading into the playoffs.
For Denver, they are looking to remain atop the AFC West and keep rival Kansas City at bay. New England are home and hosed in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets their closest competition on only five wins a piece, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Patriots which come into this game under pressure after two consecutive sub-par performances.
The Patriots scrapped by the New York Giants on a late field goal and Brady wasn’t overly impressive in their seven-point win over Buffalo last Monday. To add to those worries, top receivers Julian Edelman [foot], Danny Amendola [knee] and Aaron Dobson [ankle] are all out for the Broncos clash.
“Yeah, we’ve lost a lot of guys, and we’ve lost quite a few guys over the last three weeks,” Brady said. “So I think we’ll just keep fighting and figuring out a way to win, and it’s good to win against a good defense. Any way you can get these wins, I think it’s a positive.”
The offensive line was under plenty of pressure against Buffalo which caused Brady to face pressure of 45 percent of drop backs. Denver leads the NFL with 34 sacks so Brady could be in for another pressured outing.
“We’ve got to block better. We’ve got to get open. We’ve got to run better,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We’ve got to do everything better. It just wasn’t the kind of production or offensive performance we were looking for.”
Team statistics – Denver Broncos
Points per game – 22.2
Points allowed per game – 18.3
Total yards – 352.0
Yards passing – 257.6
Yards rushing – 94.4
Yards allowed – 305.6
Pass yards allowed – 211.9
Rush yards allowed – 93.7
Against the spread [ATS] stats:
Current spread (+3)
Overall record: 5-4-1
Home record: 2-2-0
Team statistics – New England Patriots
Points per game – 32.3
Points allowed per game – 18.2
Total yards – 424.0
Yards passing – 332.0
Yards rushing – 92.0
Yards allowed – 362.8
Pass yards allowed – 274.0
Rush yards allowed – 88.8
Against the spread [ATS] stats:
Current spread (-3)
Overall record: 5-2-3
Away record: 2-2-0
Neither team has the best stats against the spread, but Denver are 2-0 when they play as the underdog. With the line so small (+/-3) it doesn’t really favour either team and we suggest backing the head-to-head option for the best value.
Past performances and Broncos vs. Patriots history
The Patriots have won the last four from five against the Broncos, but Denver won the only game which was played in Denver.
The 26-16 victory in 2014 snapped a four-game losing streak against the Patriots and Denver have always played better at home in this match up.
Last five games between the Broncos and Patriots:
Patriots 43 – Broncos 21
Broncos 26 – Patriots 16
Patriots 34 – Broncos 31 (OT)
Patriots 31 – Broncos 21
Patriots 45 – Broncos 10
The Broncos home advantage is a big assist this Sunday night. The Broncos have won their last seven from 10 at home with loses coming to Kansas City, Arizona and Indianapolis.
The problem with those three losses is that they have come against high scoring teams and they face one of the most potent offences in the NFL. This season the Patriots have put up big totals of 40 against Buffalo, 51 against Jacksonville and 36 against Miami.
If the Broncos can limit New England to under 20 points, they will go a long way to winning this game. In the Broncos favour, they have limited the Patriots to totals of 16 and 17 in two of their last three games at home against the Patriots.
This could well be the season that Tom Brady and the Patriots go undefeated, but it’s not a sure thing. They have lost key players and looked a touch shaky of late, but having Brady at the helm is an asset all teams would love to have.
Denver are playing well, but Osweiler will have to keep up on the offensive end as well and we’re not sure he can put up Brady-like numbers.