Game Predictions & Player Projections - NE vs. DEN

Game Predictions & Player Projections - NE vs. DEN


Game Predictions & Player Projections - NE vs. DEN

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UPDATED New England at Denver

Prediction: NE 26, DEN 24 (Line: NE by 3)

UPDATE: Same as last week, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are all listed as questionable and all were limited in every practice. And all are expected to play just as well as last week when they held the same injury status.

This is the matchup that the media craves so we can be inundated with Brady/Manning trivia despite the fact that they do not actually play each other, just their defenses. This is a replay of Week 12 when the Broncos won 30-24 in overtime while starting Brock Osweiler. The Pats were without Julian Edelman but had LeGarrette Blount. But Manning has been struggling this year and the Patriots looked great against a formidable Chiefs defense. It would be unfair to say that this game has any significant mark on Manning’s legacy but it will be hyped like it does. The Broncos just do not look as good with Manning under center.

New England Patriots

1 PIT 28-21 10 @NYG 27-26
2 @BUF 40-32 11 BUF 20-13
3 JAC 51-17 12 @DEN 24-30
4 BYE —— 13 PHI 28-35
5 @DAL 30-6 14 @HOU 27-6
6 @IND 34-27 15 TEN 33-16
7 NYJ 30-23 16 @NYJ 20-26
8 MIA 36-7 17 @MIA 10-20
9 WAS 27-10 19 KC 27-20
News | Statistics | Roster
Patriots Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 320, 3
RB Steven Jackson 30
RB Brandon Bolden 20 2-20
RB James White 10 2-30,1
TE Rob Gronkowski 7-90,2
WR Julian Edelman 11-100
WR Brandon LaFell 2-30
WR Danny Amendola 3-30
PK S. Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots exceeded expectations last week when they had little trouble beating the visiting Chiefs and the offensive line played very well not allowing a single sacks for only the second time all year. The short yardage passing scheme came to life with Julian Edelman there. With Brady able to operate better he picked apart the Chiefs secondary. The biggest factor that is not being discussed about this game is that it is played in Denver. The Patriots are only 3-4 over their last road games including the Week 12 loss in Denver.

QUARTERBACK : Tom Brady still threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns in Denver during Week 12. That was the only time in the last five road games that he passed for more than two touchdowns. Brady’s stats declined over the previous month with injuries to Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and even Rob Gronkowski has been banged up. But with all of them back and playing like injuries were not a factor, Brady passed for 302 yards and two touchdowns versus the Chiefs and even rushed his fourth touchdown of the season. Based on last week, Brady looked back in form with an offense that was back to full strength – very different than what he had for the last month of the regular season.

RUNNING BACK : Steven Jackson hasn’t added much to the rushing attack of the Patriots and just last week they only ran seven times total in the win over the Chiefs. Jackson only accounted for 16 yards on six carries though he added one catch for 20 yards. James White only caught two passes for 39 yards while the Pats often went with an empty backfield and never made any pretense of having a rushing game. That led Tom Brady to throw 42 passes and only three catches came from a running back. Back in Week 12 in Denver, White was held to only two catches for five yards and LeGarrette Blount rushed for just 27 yards on nine rushes. Brandon Bolden caught a 63-yard touchdown in that game but had no role last week.

WIDE RECEIVER : The Pats finally had their full complement last week and while Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski were all limited in practices and listed as questionable, they had no problems. Amendola played a small role with only two catches but Edelman’s two-month layoff was not apparent when he ended with ten catches for 100 yards. Brandon LaFell only managed three catches for six yards and KeShawn Martin caught a 42-yard pass to end with two catches for 57 yards. The Patriots were able to defuse the Chiefs pass rush by getting the ball off very quickly and that mostly came thanks to the 16 targets thrown to Edelman. No one else had more than eight (Gronkowski).

Back in Week 12, the best wideout was Brandon LaFell with only four catches for 36 yards. Both Edelman and Amendola did not play that week.

TIGHT END : Rob Gronkowski was the leading receiver in Week 12 with six receptions for 88 yards and one touchdown. After missing practices, getting injections and only managing limited work late in the week, Gronkowski still came up big with seven catches for 83 yards and two scores in the win over the Chiefs.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: How this plays out is harder to estimate. The return of Julian Edelman makes a difference and will again since he helps with all those short receptions that could otherwise be a sack or incomplete. And Brady has a tendency to play better in big games even on the road. He already had 280 yards and three scores in the last meeting. The Broncos are going to try to keep this from becoming a shootout because that will be much harder to win.

The rushing effort was poor even with Blount in the first game and the Pats are not going to rely on that. Edelman matches on Aqib Talib when he lines up as the flanker but they’ll move him all over as they did last week. The bottom line to this matchup is that the Patriots are healthier in the passing game and a little worse in the rushing offense. Gronkowski already had success in Week 12 and last week with Edelman back he was even better with two scores.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 2 3 22 2 1 15
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN  1 14 2 22 7 27

Denver Broncos

1 BAL 19-13 10 KC 13-29
2 @KC 31-24 11 @CHI 17-15
3 @DET 24-12 12 NE 30-24
4 MIN 23-20 13 @SD 17-3
5 @OAK 16-10 14 OAK 12-15
6 @CLE 26-23 15 @PIT 27-34
7 BYE —— 16 CIN 20-17
8 GB 29-10 17 SD 27-20
9 @IND 24-27 19 PIT 23-16
News | Statistics | Roster
Broncos Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 260,1
RB C.J. Anderson 80,1 3-30
RB Ronnie Hillman 60,1 1-10
TE Owen Daniels 2-20
WR Demaryius Thomas 6-80
WR Emmanuel Sanders 5-70,1
WR Bennie Fowler 2-30
PK Brandon McManus 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The storyline will be that this is the final chance for Peyton Manning to go out on a high note or suffer just yet another playoff loss. And that’s true. The Broncos are in a situation where they have to start Manning even though they had better results with Brock Osweiler. Last week the Steelers were more than game despite playing without their best two running backs, their all-world wideout and a quarterback playing with torn tendons in his shoulder. The Broncos have already beaten the Patriots this year and are again playing at home. But the offense faced one of the worst ranked secondaries last week and never threw a passing touchdown. This has to be the final season for Manning, the question is this the final game.

QUARTERBACK : Back in Week 12, Brock Osweiler brought the Broncos back from a 21-7 deficit against the Pats and beat them in overtime when C.J. Anderson ran for 48 yards to score the winning touchdown. Osweiler passed for 270 yards and one score in that game with one interception. Peyton Manning’s season was spotty at best and a disappointment in all cases. He managed to secure the all-time passing yardage record but little else. Since Week 3, Manning only played in seven more games (some partial) and threw just four touchdowns over those games and yet 14 interceptions. When he returned last week, he threw for 222 yards and no scores but had no turnovers for the first time this year.

The Broncos are going to stick with Manning and according to HC John Fox there was never any inclination to replace him with Osweiler last week despite the slow start against a bad secondary.

RUNNING BACK : Ronnie Hillman is the starter but he’s been less productive than C.J. Anderson in recent weeks. With Manning back last week, the Broncos ran Hillman 16 times to gain only 38 yards against a great rush defense of the Steelers. C.J. Anderson rushed 15 times for 72 yards and scored once while adding two catches for 11 yards. Anderson has scored in each of the last three games. Back in Week 12, Anderson ran for 113 yards and two scores in the win over the Patriots that included four catches for 40 yards. Hillman ran 14 times for 59 yards and a score in that game as well. The gamer winner in overtime was when Anderson broke free for a 48-yard touchdown gallop.

WIDE RECEIVER : Demaryius Thomas only scored once with Peyton Manning in the first nine weeks of the season but scored four times with Osweiler over the last five games they played together. But Thomas was the main target with Manning and and rolled up three 100 yard games. Emmanuel Sanders scored four times with Manning but only twice with Osweiler. Sanders has been the more productive wideout over the last four games.

In Week 12, Thomas only caught one pass for 36 yards as the “best wideout removed by the Pats”. Sanders caught five passes for 85 yards and the lone passing score went to Andre Caldwell on his two catches for eight yards. Caldwell has only managed one catch in the last four games.

TIGHT END : Vernon Davis has been completely removed from the game plan and only played one snap last week. Owen Daniels and Virgil Green both had a couple of catches for short yardage and no real production – same as they did back in Week 12.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Broncos relied mostly on the rushing game in the last meeting and that will happen again to the extent possible. No need to get into a shoot-out with Manning unable to connect with his receivers as he was could. And controlling the game is all in favor of the Broncos who won thanks to C.J. Anderson who is on a roll with scoring. Is there a chance that Manning gets replaced by Osweiler? Almost impossible other than by injury. But the receivers all had problems with drops last week and that is usually on both parties – the receivers have not been catching balls from Manning for almost two months.

Thomas had a very bad showing in the last meeting with plenty of drops but that was with Osweiler. He’ll be the main target unless the Pats can take him out of the equation again. The Broncos will be relying on their defense and rushing as much as they can and won’t be passing any more than they must. That most likely means the running backs are the better fantasy play again this time and the wideout success will be limited to moderate production from Sanders and Thomas.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 29 26 10 20 11 3
Preventing Fantasy Points NE  16 10 21 5 4 4

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UPDATED New England at Denver

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