Broncos vs. Patriots: Preview and Prediction for Prime-Time Matchup

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Broncos vs. Patriots: Preview and Prediction for Prime-Time Matchup
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

In what is easily the game of the week, the Denver Broncos will be taking on the New England Patriots in the latest chapter of the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning rivalry.

This will be the 14th meeting between the two quarterbacks including playoff games.  Brady has a 9-4 record in these matchups, including a 6-2 record at home.  The two have combined for 50 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in these games, and there are bound to be plenty of scores in this one.

Below is a preview of the game itself as well as the two teams, followed by a prediction for the prime-time matchup.  

 

Viewing Information

Date: Sunday, Nov. 24

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA

TV: NBC

 

Denver Broncos (9-1)

Things are going as well as they could be in 2013 for the Broncos.  They've gone 9-1 and are coming off a big win over the Kansas City Chiefs, moving to the top of the AFC West, at least for now.

At 37 years old, Manning is leading the most efficient offense in the NFL.  Denver is averaging 455.5 total yards and 39.8 points per game, leading the league in both categories.  

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

For Manning, he's completed 69.9 percent of his passes for 3,572 yards and 34 touchdowns.  At this rate, he will have 5,715 yards and 54 touchdowns by the end of the year, which would both be NFL records.

While the defense had struggled at the beginning of the season, things have turned around recently.  The Broncos haven't allowed more than 21 points in their past three games, and the return of Von Miller has been a big reason for that.  Although he's played in just four games, Miller has the highest overall grade among 4-3 linebackers according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

The Broncos are trying to do whatever it takes to stay on top of the AFC West.  If they win the division, they will almost certainly have a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  But if they don't win the division, the Broncos will be playing on the road throughout the postseason.

 

New England Patriots (7-3)

Coming off an incredibly controversial loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Patriots have to be a bit frustrated right now.

The good news is that the offense is now healthy and Tom Brady has weapons to throw to.  Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola have helped the Patriots make big plays, scoring 75 points over the last two games.  For Brady, he's thrown five touchdowns and one interception over those last two games.

Elsa/Getty Images

Shane Vereen is back as well, and he made some nice plays in his first game back despite playing against such a tough defense.  He had eight receptions for 65 yards out of the backfield, and he will be making plenty of plays out of the backfield as the season winds down.

Defensively, the Patriots have been pretty solid.  They're one of just seven teams allowing fewer than 20 points per game, and they've been staying together even without the presence of Vince Wilfork in the middle of the defense.

The Patriots shouldn't have any problem taking the AFC East over teams like the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, but the real concern for this team will be grabbing a first-round bye.  If the season ended today, the Patriots would have the No. 3 seed behind the Indianapolis Colts, but with the directions these two teams are heading in, New England has a real chance to grab that No. 2 spot.

 

Prediction

Obviously, the key to stopping the Broncos is containing Manning, and that's no easy task.  If Aqib Talib is able to play, he can contain whomever he's guarding, but it's going to be really hard for that secondary to contain Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker all at the same time, assuming Welker can go after suffering a concussion last week.

With Miller now rushing the passer for the Broncos, I expect Manning to out-duel Brady in this rivalry game, and for the Broncos to advance to 10-1 while staying on top of their division.

Prediction: Broncos 38, Patriots 30

 

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