Denver Broncos (9-1) at New England Patriots (7-3)
Sunday, Nov. 24, 8:30 ET
Weather at kickoff will be 20 degrees with a 21mph WNW wind. Given the orientation of Gillette Stadium this is a wind coming from the corner of the visitors side by the lighthouse. The primary wind direction will be left to right from the Patriots bench but with gusts and swirls. The wind may put a damper of downfield throws but not so much on the short passing game both Brady & Manning have been using. 20 degrees isn’t too bad but the wind will make it seem a lot worse.
BRONCOS OFFENSE: Peyton Manning will rely on quick short passes as he exploits the greatest mismatch he finds in the defense. Peyton has had plenty of time to throw this year but won’t need it on Sunday. Watch for Wes Welker to have a “do you miss me now” production day on his return to Gillette. With the weather limiting Peyton’s opportunity to occasionally air it out the Broncos will have to rely on their rushing attack to keep the chains moving. Much of Denver’s success in the running game is because opponents were terrified of Manning throwing the ball. With the weather limiting Peyton the Patriots will be able to focus more on the threat of Moreno and Monte.
PATRIOTS OFFENSE: The weather will fit right in with Brady’s short passing game. Amendola and Gronkowski should have busy days and the top individual receiving yards against Denver this year were by TE’s Antonio Gates and Jordan Reed. Denver’s Von Miller and Shaun Phillips will attempt to disrupt Brady’s timing with heat from the outside but it’s always been interior pressure Brady has the most trouble with. Shane Vereen will provide a great safety valve if the pass rush gets too aggressive and the elusive back can rack up the yards. The Patriots will also need the running game to keep the chains moving giving the Bronco’s defense another threat to contain.
BOTH DEFENSES: There are no standout individual matchups that will key the success of either team. These quarterbacks are going to move the ball and make few mistakes, the task is to slow them down. The best defense on Sunday might be the ability of the offense to control the clock and keep the other sitting on the bench as long as possible.
THE PICK: The Patriots are built to play in this sort of weather and this type of game. As Brady struggled early in the season the Patriots used Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount to run the football effectively and expect the same on Sunday. Two situations that make you want to bet on the Patriots are Brady after a loss and as the underdog. On Sunday you get both.
Patriots 34 Broncos 31