So much for those undefeated Chiefs.
Kansas City-Denver was hyped to be the game of the century.
Vaunted pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston were supposed to toy with an untested offensive line of the Broncos.
With a brace and mounds of tape on the bum ankle, Peyton Manning failed to turn in a statistically sexy performance.
In today’s NFL, 323 yards and one touchdown doesn’t exactly scream Hall of Fame.
The Chiefs did a serviceable job on defense.
They held a team averaging more than 40 points a game to 27 at home. They even forced Britton Colquitt to punt six times. For much of 2013, Colquitt’s primary job title has been holder on extra point and field goal attempts.
In a rather boring game that dragged for three and a half hours, the Broncos proved they’re in a class above the Chiefs. Analysts point to the Denver offensive line being the difference. Kansas City failed to sack or even knock Manning down.
But look at how the Broncos’ defense has rounded into form in recent weeks.
Shaun Phillips is proving to be a recreation of Elvis Dumervil and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is easing the pain of Champ Bailey missing time with a nagging injury.
Despite a lack of highlight-worthy plays, Denver won by 10.
Now they can focus on preparing for a real playmaking quarterback.
Since taking over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001, Tom Brady has played the Broncos 11 times, including in the playoffs.
He’s 5-6 all-time versus the orange and blue.
Considering Brady owns three Super Bowl rings, the Broncos have been a thorn in his side.
That being said, the Pats won the last three matchups.
And maybe more importantly, Denver hasn’t won in Foxborough since 2006.
This season’s Patriots amaze people. We’re accustomed to seeing Brady throw to matchup nightmares like Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.
Now Brady’s trying to make household names of Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson.
Statistically speaking, the New England quarterback is having a down year. Heading into Sunday night, Brady averages only 237 pass yards a game.
He’s been a major disappointment for fantasy football players this season, accumulating a mediocre 14 touchdowns through 10 games.
We often directly associate the success of the Patriots with the success of Brady. As he goes, so do the Pats.
Bill Belichick and company enter week 12 at 7-3. You’d think that means the former Michigan quarterback boasts a quarterback rating above 100.
On the contrary, 18 starting quarterbacks had a higher quarterback rating than Brady’s 82.7 before he faced Carolina.
The Pats do it a little differently this season.
They use a running back trio of Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden. They’ve totaled over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns, helping the Patriots rank in the top third of rushing.
Defensively, the Pats take on a “bend but don’t break” mindset.
Look for PFM to expose a defense missing key cogs such as Vince Wilfork, Aqib Talib, Jerod Mayo, Steve Gregory and Alfonzo Dennard.
The Patriots have more flaws than years past. And the Broncos are due to beat Brady.
Three keys to the game for Denver:
- Keep running. Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball didn’t exactly light up the Chiefs last week. But they did just enough to keep the defense honest. A better performance against the Pats helps Manning a ton.
- Disrupt Brady. Like most pocket passers, Brady hates pressure. Not allowing the former MVP to step into his throws every time is a must.
- Start fast. In last season’s game with New England, the Broncos fell way behind early. You can’t give Brady a cushion, especially at home. A couple quick scores
in the first quarter would be ideal.
My prediction: Broncos-34, Patriots-31