Yet again there always seems to be a story behind each game in the NFL. This week it would be Wes Welker’s return to the New England Patriots (7-3) after joining the Denver Broncos (9-1) this season. Although listed as probable, interim head coach Jack Del Rio confirmed Welker’s status as “definite” for Sunday. Additionally there is the story of the two best quarterbacks in the league facing off for the 15th time in their careers at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro at 6:30 pm (mtn).
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady last season (Photo Credit: Denver Broncos)
The history between the Broncos and the Patriots are what fuel the matchup and made it a prime time Sunday night game. Tom Brady leads the record between him and Peyton Manning in New England 2-7. The Broncos lead the matchup against the Patriots 6-5 since 2001.
It has been iterated many times in the NFL that the determining factor of a hall of fame quarterback is his ability to succeed with any receiver. Without Welker, Brady has not looked like the hall of fame quarterback that we have seen.
This season Brady has a career low quarterback rating with 83.6 and a completion rating of 58.7 (25th in the league). Brady’s best season was when Welker started in 2007 with a 117.2 passer rating and a 68.9 percentage in which they lost against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Welker already has more touchdowns this season (9) than he had in that 2007 season (8).
Unlike past seasons the matchup between the Broncos and Patriots doesn’t look as heated judging by the statistics. The Broncos have faced better offenses this season in the Eagles and Chargers and better defenses in the Giants, Chiefs, Ravens, and Raiders. All of which they have beaten.
Keys to the game:
Playing in New England in the middle of November will play a factor. The high of the day is predicted at 29 degrees and windy.
Aside from Welker the next crucial player will be tight end Julius Thomas who leads the Broncos in touchdowns with 10. He is listed as questionable because of his knee and has had limited practice this week.
Denver’s offensive line hasn’t looked better than it did last week. Kansas City’s superb defense wasn’t able to get to Manning once. Against New England they have to continue to play just a strong against a defense that has had 32 sacks this season (tied for sixth in the league).
New England has just came off a controversial Monday night loss against Carolina. With a bad taste in their mouth they may have some frustration to take out on the Broncos.
The Patriots have been riddled with injuries however tight end Rob Gronkowski has played a few weeks and running back Shane Vereen who had 101 yards in week one but was injured during the game will play in his second week back. The Denver defense has to be on top of these players, amongst the key players (Stevan Ridley, Julian Edelman, Legarrette Blount).
Statistically Denver is the better team but the level of competition and rivalry that are between these teams make it a matchup that will be entertaining to watch. The skills of the Broncos however should prevail.
Denver Broncos 35 @ New England Patriots 27