Both teams come into Sunday's game at 2-2, and both are coming off offensive explosions in Week 4. Denver had over 500 yards of offense in a 37-6 win over the Raiders. In that game, Peyton Manning was on fire, completing 30 of 38 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns, finishing with a QB rating of 130.0.
The talk going into Sunday will be about the marquee quarterback matchup, but the Broncos have always been a thorn in New England's side. Yes, the Patriots defeated the Broncos twice last season, but this is not last year's Broncos.
Manning is starting to get his timing down, and as the season progresses, the Broncos will be a team no one wants to play. That has always been the way people feel about Brady's Patriots, but this is not a team that will intimidate the Broncos.
The Patriots lost to the Cardinals at home, and while the Cards are sitting at 4-0, the Broncos are arguably a much better team. The Broncos hold a 25-17 edge in the series and are 9-9 in games in New England.
While the Broncos are designed to be a strong offensive team behind Manning, the frustration that will come during this game toward the Pats will be on the defensive side of the ball, specifically the pass rush.
The Patriots offensive line has been much maligned, and Tom Brady has been sacked eight times on the season. In the loss to the Cardinals, the key for Arizona was the defensive pressure they put on Brady and the four sacks they were able to obtain.
It's well known that Brady will pick a defense apart if given the time, so the Broncos need to collapse the pocket and put hits, even if not for sacks, on the New England quarterback.
Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil will be huge in this game. Brady will remember Dumervil well from the hit he put on him in their December game last year.
The Broncos pass rush needs to attack tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer and harass Brady all game.
If the Broncos can force Brady into third-and-long conversions, they should be able to keep the Patriots offense off the field, allowing Manning to come in and orchestrate his precision passing game.
The Patriots have won three of the last four games inside the series, but this will be a hungry Broncos team come Sunday, looking to cash in after their breakout game against the Raiders.
Denver can get a season-defining win at Gillette Stadium, and it will be a fierce pass rush that helps them do just that.