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coleryan
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Denver Broncos at New England Patriots: Preview and Pick

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On 11/19/2013 05:59 PM in NFL
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots: Preview and Pick

The Sunday night football game in the National Football League for week 12 will be one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. The Denver Broncos are arguably the best team in football and Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will renew their rivalry once again when the Broncos head to New England to take on the Patriots.

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game has the Broncos listed as (-3) road chalk. This is the first time that the Patriots are going to be home underdogs in a very long time. This shows you just how good that the Broncos are. The sports betting public believes in this line as over 76 percent of the early action at the betting window is on the Broncos. This like has slightly dipped and can be found at (-2.5) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.

How will the Patriots' defense that couldn't come up with the key stop on third down against the Panthers get the job done against the Denver Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning next week? The Patriots' third-down defense surrendered eight conversions in 11 attempts against Carolina, as Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dazzled with some impressive runs. Manning won't beat many opponents with his feet, but he can carve a team up through the air.

That has to be a concern for the Patriots, who played against Carolina without two starters, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and safety Steve Gregory (broken thumb). Cornerback Kyle Arrington (groin) also is ailing, and No. 1 corner Aqib Talib (hip) didn't finish the game. Going against Manning with a banged-up secondary isn't ideal. This is something that Manning could take advantage of if the Patriots will not enter this game at full strength.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that both of these teams have some positive trends. The Patriots are 53-22-2 against the spread (ATS) in their last 77 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game, 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing on Sunday following a Monday night game and 30-12-1 ATS in their last 43 games following a straight up loss. The Broncos are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games, 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 against the AFC and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games in November.

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
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Pfile Nickname coleryan
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11/20/2013 09:13 PM
A healthy defense would have trouble against Peyton Manning.

So when six starters are sidelined, the task becomes much tougher.

The New England Patriots might find themselves in that predicament Sunday night when Manning leads the Denver Broncos and their NFL-best offense into Gillette Stadium.

"It's definitely a high-potent offense that we'll be facing this week," starting safety Steve Gregory said Wednesday. "We are battling having a lot of guys that are hurt and banged-up, but it's that time of the season where those type of things happen."

Gregory is one of those guys.

A broken right thumb kept him out of the 24-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Monday night and his status for the Denver game is unknown. Starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard also was sidelined with a knee injury, and is expected to miss Sunday night's game.

Aqib Talib, the other starting cornerback, returned against the Panthers after missing three games with a hip injury, but couldn't finish the game.

"I tried to go through it as much as I can," he said, "but if I could have been out there, I'd have been out there."

The Patriots (7-3) also have three of their best defenders on season-ending injured reserve: defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly and linebacker Jerod Mayo.

So they started rookie free agents Chris Jones and Joe Vellano at defensive tackle and third-round draft pick Duron Harmon at safety against Carolina.

But the Patriots emphasize creating depth, so the injuries in the secondary might not keep them from playing with similar alignments than they would use if the regulars were healthy.

"We'll do what we think is best for the game, regardless," coach Bill Belichick said.

Against the Panthers, backup cornerback Kyle Arrington let Ted Ginn Jr., get free for the game-deciding 25-yard touchdown pass with 59 seconds left.

The tall, speedy Talib was having an outstanding season with four interceptions before being hurt. He's already played well against Vincent Jackson of Tampa Bay, Julio Jones of Atlanta, A.J. Green of Cincinnati and Jimmy Graham of New Orleans.

He struggled against Steve Smith of Carolina, but wasn't at full strength.

If Talib plays against Denver (9-1), he'd have to cover Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker.

"He's an excellent cover corner and he did an excellent job on Julio Jones," Manning said. "That shows you the confidence they have in him. He is just a top-notch cover corner, great speed and great size."

When the Patriots acquired Talib from Tampa Bay last season, they were able to move Devin McCourty to safety where he has been outstanding. Now McCourty is the only one of their top five defensive backs who was not limited in practice Wednesday.

That gave backups more plays during the workout.

"They've had some injuries, yet (with) kind of the next-man-up philosophy that you hear a lot of teams use, I'm not sure anybody does it better than them," Manning said. "Somebody else pops in there and everybody else seems to kind of raise their level of play."

They haven't been doing that lately.

In the last three games, the Patriots have allowed nine touchdown passes: two by Miami's Ryan Tannehill, four by Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and three by Carolina's Cam Newton. New England won two of those games.

Now the Patriots must face Manning, whose 34 scoring passes are eight more than any other quarterback.

"He does a phenomenal job of getting the ball out quick," defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. "He knows every single route, what's going on. He's changing the play at the line of scrimmage, trying to give their offense the best play against the defense. He's been doing it a long time now, so we just have to make sure you don't show anything early and just be smart."

No matter how many defensive players are sidelined or slowed by injuries.

"You always want to be playing at 100 percent," Gregory said. "You never like to deal with bumps and bruises, but it's something that we have to deal with every day, trying to get better and trying to heal up."
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11/20/2013 09:14 PM
There are some things in life that just get better with age. Love letters. Fine wine. The rapport between a receiver and his quarterback.

Yet, Wes Welker hasn’t wasted any time becoming Peyton Manning’s top target, just as he quickly became Tom Brady’s bull’s-eye in New England.

Welker set a franchise record with 112 catches his first year with the Patriots in 2007, when Brady set the NFL record with 50 touchdown passes

Manning is on pace to break that mark with 54 TDs this season, thanks in good measure to Welker, who has already matched his career high with nine TD catches.

The Broncos are on pace to score 636 points, which would break the NFL record of 589 set by the ‘07 Patriots.

“That was a great year for us,” Brady said. “You watch what these guys are doing and they have better numbers than we had. It’s incredible to score points like that.”

Welker is the common denominator.

With a team-best 61 catches, he’s had an immediate impact in Denver, where the Broncos were already rich at receiver and even though in Manning’s mind, it takes years, not months, for a QB and a receiver to work out the kinks.

Those who know Welker say he sped up that process through an uncommon mixture of talent, work ethic and determination, the very attributes that have made him the league’s pre-eminent slot receiver.

“The biggest thing I see is the competitive nature,” Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Those two guys are as competitive as they come, and I think that’s part of the fuel that drives him to work the way he works at being prepared and at being on the same page.”

Former teammate Rodney Harrison, who is now an analyst at NBC, said, “Everyone looks at all his catches and what he’s done from a numbers standpoint, but I think the thing that goes unstated is how much effort he puts in as far as the mental aspect of the game. I mean he’s chasing Tom Brady down, he’s always in constant communication with the offensive coordinator, the wide receivers coach, always wanting to learn, always wanting to get it right. And you can see the frustration on the field if it doesn’t go perfect with Wes.”

What makes Welker so special, Harrison said, isn’t what he does on game day but what he does the rest of the week in the meeting room, the weight room, the film room, even the locker room.

“The thing that really makes him great and really has elevated his career was his willingness to learn the system and learn his quarterback. I think with all those years that he’s been with Brady, obviously when he goes to another great quarterback similar to Brady – maybe a little more of a ‘brainiac’ than Brady – he’s already prepared because he knows, because he just came from one of the best,” Harrison said.

Welker’s smooth, swift transition is no surprise to Brady.

“Well, he’s got a great understanding of the game and coverages, defenses, how to run routes, how to set up routes,” Brady said. “I know that he’s got great awareness and you can see with those two already, I’ve seen a lot of their games and their offense and they do a great job and they have a great connection.”

Manning looks at Welker as a sage who has brought along youngsters Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas, teaching them the finer points of the position.

“Wes has a great work ethic and he’s provided just good leadership to our offense. He was voted a captain, which is a real credit to him, in his first year,” Manning said. “... And he loves football. He’s a tough guy. He plays through injuries. And those are things that you appreciate about a football player, especially playing in that slot position where he’s taking a lot of hits.”

In fact, Welker sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter of Denver’s win over Kansas City on Sunday and missed practice on Wednesday, although he participated in warm-ups, suggesting he had passed his baseline test earlier in the week.

If that’s the case, he’ll be able to do non-contact work Thursday and practice Friday in anticipation of facing his former team Sunday when the Broncos (9-1) visit the Patriots (7-3) in the latest Manning-Brady showdown.

Welker was getting a massage during the media access period Wednesday and didn’t speak with reporters.

Manning sounded as though he expects to have Welker to throw to Sunday, and Brady said he’s sure he’ll see his old buddy in action.

“He’s a tough guy, so he’s played through everything,” Brady said. “This is a big game for both teams so you have to expect their best players.”
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11/21/2013 10:46 AM
After leading his team to a significant victory, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning heads into yet another matchup with New England Patriots rival Tom Brady.

It's unknown if Manning will have a former Patriots star receiver to help him.

Wes Welker's chances of making his return to New England on Sunday night and helping the Broncos try for a fourth straight win remain uncertain because of a concussion.

While he's dealt with nagging injuries to both ankles, Manning is expected to face Brady for the 14th time. That includes three playoff matchups and a 31-21 defeat in New England on Oct. 7, 2012.

Denver (9-1) will seek to avenge that loss while continuing its momentum from a 27-17 victory over previously unbeaten AFC West rival Kansas City last Sunday. Manning threw for 323 yards and a touchdown in that win, and Montee Ball had a pair of scoring runs.

With 34 TD passes in 10 games, Manning remains on pace to reclaim the NFL single-season record from Brady. The Patriots quarterback had 50 touchdown passes in 2007, three years after Manning amassed 49.

The Broncos, though, didn't come away unscathed from their latest win, and their receiving corps might take a big hit. Welker participated only in warm-ups Wednesday and tight end Julius Thomas is dealing with a knee injury.

With 672 catches in his six seasons in New England, Welker was easily Brady's top target. He topped 1,000 yards in five of those campaigns and totaled 37 touchdowns before signing a two-year deal with Denver in March.

"(Welker is) a tough guy so he's played through everything," Brady said. "This is a big game for both teams so you have to expect their best players. I'm sure all those guys will be ready to go."

That toughness and experience have made Welker a primary target for Manning with 61 receptions for 648 yards, and he has helped Manning spread the wealth offensively as five Broncos players have at least 37 catches.

''Wes has a great work ethic and he's provided just good leadership to our offense. He was voted a captain, which is a real credit to him, in his first year,'' Manning said. ''... And he loves football. He's a tough guy. He plays through injuries. And those are things that you appreciate about a football player, especially playing in that slot position where he's taking a lot of hits.''

The Broncos also placed safety Rahim Moore on recallable injured reserve Tuesday after he needed emergency surgery to stop bleeding in a left leg muscle. They signed Michael Huff, an eight-year veteran who was with Baltimore earlier this season, to take his place.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are coming off a controversial 24-20 loss at Carolina on Monday night. New England drove 62 yards in the final minute and seemed to catch a break when the Panthers were flagged after intercepting Brady's pass toward Rob Gronkowski in the end zone.

Officials instead waived off that pass interference penalty after deciding the ball was uncatchable, handing the Patriots the defeat.

Coach Bill Belichick and Brady were eager to put the controversy behind at the beginning of this week.

''It's not really our job to call the game. It's to play it and coach it. Whatever calls they make are the ones that we live with," Belichick said. "We have to turn the page here quickly, get on to Denver. Good football team, playing well. Obviously, their record reflects that."

While Denver is seeking to push ahead of Kansas City in its division, New England (7-3) will try to build on its two-game cushion in the AFC East. The Patriots have won three straight over the Broncos - including a 45-10 playoff rout Jan. 14, 2012, with Tim Tebow starting for Denver - and Brady is 9-4 in his lifetime matchups with Manning.

Brady connected with Welker on an 8-yard touchdown and ran for another in last season's win over Denver. Manning had 337 yards - and three TDs - to Brady's 223, but New England outrushed the Broncos 251-70 as Stevan Ridley had a career-high 151 yards.

Manning is 2-9 all-time on the road against New England, including the playoffs, and 2-7 in visits versus Brady.

"It's pretty well documented my respect for Tom as a quarterback," Manning said. "The way he prepares. The way he's better each season than the year before. Those are the couple of the many things that are impressive about him as a quarterback."

"Every time you play their football team, you're playing a well-coached, disciplined team."

Manning has topped 300 yards in his last three games versus the Patriots. He has thrown five interceptions during that streak but will face an injury-plagued defense this time.

Adrian Wilson, Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork are out for the season for New England, and defensive backs Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and Steve Gregory (thumb) missed last week's game. Cornerback Aqib Talib was forced to leave Monday's loss after aggravating a hip injury that caused him to miss the three previous games.

Brady has 12 touchdowns and one interception in his last five games against Denver. He tied an NFL playoff record with six TDs in the divisional round victory in 2012.
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11/22/2013 01:57 PM
It's football's equivalent to Bird versus Magic or perhaps Ali and Frazier.

For the 14th time in their storied careers, future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will face off against each other when the Denver Broncos visit the New England Patriots on "Sunday Night Football."

Brady has generally had the edge historically, going 9-4 against Manning's Colts and now Broncos but Peyton has posted a 4-3 record in his last seven head-to-head matchups after dropping the first six meetings.

Each has enjoyed almost stunning efficiency throughout their respective careers. In fact this contest will mark the first in NFL history in which both signal callers are at least 90 games over .500 as starters. Brady has the best winning percentage in the modern era and is at plus-101 for his career (143-42) while Manning is third overall in winning percentage and plus-92 (163-71).

"It's always a great matchup," said Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio when talking about the two QBs. "You're talking about two of the premier quarterbacks in the league and it's going to be shown in primetime and all that."

Manning's Broncos have been playing at the higher level so far this season and Denver defeated Kansas City, 27-17, last week, handing the Chiefs their first loss of the season. With the win, the Broncos are now deadlocked with KC atop both the AFC West and the conference as a whole at 9-1.

Manning threw a touchdown pass in that one, and rookie Montee Ball ran for two scores as Denver denied the Chiefs their first 10-0 start in franchise history.

Manning, playing on a tender ankle, completed 24-of-40 passes for 323 yards and was not sacked once by a unit which entered the week leading the NFL in that category.

"I thought they responded well against a very good front," said Del Rio about his offensive line.

Knowshon Moreno added 79 yards on the ground for the Broncos, who became the first team to score more than 17 points against Kansas City this season en route to winning their ninth straight game against a division foe.

New England, on the other hand, leads the AFC East by two games despite a controversial 24-20 loss at Carolina on Monday night.

The game ended despite a flag being thrown in the end zone on the final play, indicating a possible pass interference/holding penalty on Carolina's Luke Kuechly, but officials picked it up, a move that infuriated Brady, who followed referee Clete Blakeman off the field as the TV broadcast picked up audio of the veteran using an expletive to complain.

"I wish it wouldn't have come down to that," Brady said. "I mean I think there were plenty of plays we could have made, but it did and they're going to make a call or they're not going to make the call. We can play better than that."

Down by four with just under a minute to go and all three timeouts in hand, the Pats marched to the Carolina 18, where, on the game's final play, Brady threw a pass that rookie safety Robert Lester picked off in the end zone.

Brady was looking for Rob Gronkowski but the All-Pro tight end was bear-hugged by Kuechly behind Lester. The official nearest the play threw a flag in the end zone, but Blakeman and the rest of the crew huddled and declared there was no foul.

Brady completed 29-of-40 passes for 296 yards with one touchdown.

Running back Shane Vereen, activated from short-term injured reserve prior to the game, had 65 yards on eight receptions for the Patriots, who are two games behind the Broncos and Chiefs for the AFC lead.

"It's not really our job to call the game. It's to play it and coach it. Whatever calls they make are the ones that we live with," Belichick said. "We have to turn the page here quickly, get on to Denver. Good football team, playing well. Obviously, their record reflects that."

The Broncos own a 25-18 all-time record against the Patriots in the regular season, including a 9-9 mark in road games.
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11/22/2013 01:57 PM
The banged-up New England defense faces its toughest test this week. The Broncos lead the NFL with 398 points scored -- the third-most ever by a team through the first 10 games of a season -- and Manning has passed for a league-best 3,572 yards and 34 touchdowns, a number on pace to top Brady's record season of 50 in 2007, which just happened to top Manning's 49 from three years prior to that.

The success of the Broncos offense is directly tied to Manning's high-level of performance along with a stunning group of playmakers which includes ex- Patriots star Wes Welker along with outside the numbers threats Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker as well as dynamic tight end Julius Thomas.

Welker, of course, was Brady's top target for six seasons in New England, amassing 672 receptions and 37 TDs over that span while reaching the 1,000- yard plateau in five of those years. He is, however, dealing with a concussion and could miss his return to Foxborough. Meanwhile, Julius Thomas, who already has 10 receiving TDs, matching Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe for the most by a tight end in franchise history, is also hampered by a balky knee.

"(Welker is) a tough guy so he's played through everything," Brady said. "This is a big game for both teams so you have to expect their best players. I'm sure all those guys will be ready to go."

Welker hasn't slowed down much in the Rockies and has 61 receptions for 648 yards, one of five Broncos to have at least 37 catches so far in 2013.

"Wes has a great work ethic and he's provided just good leadership to our offense," Manning said. He loves football. He's a tough guy. He plays through injuries. And those are things that you appreciate about a football player."

The middle of the Pats D has been decimated by injuries with defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly as well as middle linebacker Jerod Mayo and safety Adrian Wilson lost for the season. Meanwhile cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and safety Steve Gregory (thumb) missed last week's game at Carolina and the team's top over corner, Aqib Talib, was forced to leave after aggravating a hip injury that caused him to miss the three prior games.

Brady, who has thrown for 2,552 yards and 14 TDs, really hadn't been himself this season thanks in large part to the uncertainty at the skill positions but he has slowly been starting to hit his stride The fact that Gronkowski and slot receiver Danny Amendola are now healthy while rookie Aaron Dobson seems to getting it has to be a scary thought for most opposing defenses.

"It's pretty well documented my respect for Tom as a quarterback," Manning said. "The way he prepares. The way he's better each season than the year before. Every time you play their football team, you're playing a well- coached, disciplined team."

The Broncos suffered a significant hit on their defense when safety Rahim Moore was lost for a significant period after undergoing emergency surgery to stop bleeding in a left leg muscle.
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11/22/2013 01:58 PM
The trends point to New England here. The Patriots are a perfect 5-0 at home this season and Manning is 2-9 all-time on the road against New England. Trends, however, don't take into account just how decimated Belichick's defense is.

Maybe a Patriots team with their full complement on that side of the ball would have the edge in this one but that's not the case so count on Manning exorcising a few ghosts.

"For us it's an opportunity to go on the road and face a team that's really been on top of the AFC for a number of years," Del Rio said. "It'll be a great challenge and a great opportunity to go in there and play a good football team and find a way to scratch out a win."
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