Patriots vs. Broncos: 3 Ways to Slow Down Tom Brady and New England's Offense

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Patriots vs. Broncos: 3 Ways to Slow Down Tom Brady and New England's Offense
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Say what you want about the NFL, but they know how to market their stars and the Patriots coming to Denver is a tantalizing match up for the 2011 season.

The game within the game on Sunday, is Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow, pocket passer vs. scramble master. 

The funny thing about this dream match-up is that neither player will take the field at the same time as the other. The task of stopping the star quarterbacks falls on the defenses of each team.

A resurgent Denver defense will have the tall task of facing the most potent offense they have seen during their streak. The question that the defense must answer is how to slow down Brady and the Pats enough for the Denver offense to keep pace.

Brady brings with him a new-look passing attack that is now being spearheaded by Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at tight end, but Wes Welker is still always lurking in the slot.

The first thing that the Broncos need to do is LOCK DOWN WES WELKER with Champ Bailey. Think about all the opposing top receivers that the Broncos have faced during their current streak and this tactic should be a no brain-er.

Welker may still get his touches but Denver fans will recall a long interception return from Bailey after Brady threw at him one too many times. Perhaps this time, Bailey won't be foiled by a super-human effort like the one Ben Watson gave to stop Bailey from scoring.

The next key for the Broncos defense is to GET PRESSURE UP THE MIDDLE and keep Brady from stepping up in the pocket. 

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

It is clear that the Broncos pass rush has been rejuvenated by Von Miller's addition, but Tom Brady has not lasted this long in the league by withering under outside pressure.

A consummate professional like Brady has an innate sense of pocket presence and knows when to step up in order to avoid the outside pressure from players like Miller and Dumervil.

That means that Brodrick Bunkley needs to collapse the pocket from the front and Joe Mays need to find the right times to delay an "A-Gap" blitz in order to put Brady in the dirt.

This doesn't mean that Von Miller isn't going to play a huge role in this game though. Miller will likely get his fair share of pressure and maybe even a sack of his own, but his most important task will be to help CONFUSE BRADY WITH COVERAGE CHANGES.

The main reason that the New England Patriots have been so successful with their new passing attack is because covering tight ends like Gronkowski is a scheming nightmare.

Considering how Gronkowski is playing it might not be a waste to put Bailey on him, but that of course leaves the linebackers to try and cover players like Welker which is not ideal either.

Denver must keep Von Miller moving and spending equal time in coverage as well as pass rushing. It's relatively well known that Miller rushing ability is far ahead of his coverage ability, but if Dennis Allen can get Miller into some exotic zone packages, he might surprise Brady with his presence and steal an interception.

The Broncos don't want to take too many risks on defense because Brady will surely make them pay on many of them. However, a healthy Brian Dawkins and Andre' Goodman can help keep things steady on the outside and deep portions of the field.

If there is some good news for Denver in terms of trying to keep up with the Patriots its that New England's defense is statistically worse than the one in Minnesota that the Broncos were able to pin over 30 points on.

The Denver defense has never had a hard number in mind that they need to limit the opposing offense to, it has always just been required that they keep it "close enough." 

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