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.
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.
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.
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 doesn't play, which team will win on Sunday night?
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.