Wes Welker's Health Will Be Key for Broncos in Upcoming Matchup with Patriots

Alex KayCorrespondent INovember 18, 2013

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Wes Welker #83 of the Denver Broncos completes a 6 yard reception against the defense of  Husain Abdullah #39 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos dethroned the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in Week 11 but may have temporarily lost a critical piece of their offense in the process.

According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, star wide receiver Wes Welker suffered a concussion during the contest and could miss some time due to the injury.

If Welker cannot go for Week 12’s SNF matchup with the New England Patriots—his former team—it will be a huge blow to the Broncos’ chances of winning the game.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Wes Welker #83 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball during the first half against New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The veteran wideout has been a major key to the sustained success of the Denver passing game, and his presence—or lack thereof—will certainly be felt. Through 10 games in 2013, the 10-year man out of Texas Tech has compiled 61 receptions for 648 yards and nine touchdowns.

While fellow receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and stud tight end Julius Thomas are capable of shouldering the load, there is no denying that Welker has been instrumental in quarterback Peyton Manning’s MVP-worthy campaign.

Peyton's Weapons
Wes Welker61876489
Demaryius Thomas60939149
Eric Decker54827923
Julius Thomas456259010
Stats via ESPN.com

The slot receiver is capable of doing nearly everything asked of him, including busting big gains on deep shots down the field or making quick possession catches to move the chains in critical situations. Welker has surefire hands and an intimate knowledge of route running, which makes him a reliable option for Manning in most every situation.    

Take him out of the equation, and it is one less major obstacle for the opposition to overcome, something a smart coach like New England’s Bill Belichick will be able to game-plan for and utilize to his side’s advantage.

Nov 11, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) reacts after missing a pass against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

No one understands just how critical Welker is to the timing and rhythm of a passing attack better than Belichick. His organization employed the wideout for six seasons, and Welker finished with fewer than 110 catches and 1,100 yards just once in that span.

If Welker cannot go on Sunday night, it will free up defenders who would normally be assigned to him to provide double-coverage against the other elite options or rush the passer.

Manning won’t have his favorite option for a quick-release when the rush is closing in, which could lead to a critical mistake or turnover that swings the game in favor of the Pats.

This upcoming contest is projected to be a close, hard-fought battle among two of the AFC’s top teams, so missing a key piece like Welker could be the difference between a win and a loss for Denver.