The Patriots will be hosting the Broncos tomorrow night in a Divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The two team’s met just three weeks ago in Denver, a game the Patriots won 41-23, but this is the playoffs and although the Patriots are 14-point favorites anything can happen.
The playoffs are a time where elite players step up their games and play their best, but it is also a time for the lesser known players to step up and make a major impact and have their team’s advance to the next round. Here are three players that could play a major role for the Patriots Saturday night.
This one is pretty obvious considering on the season he only had 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown. The one touchdown did come against the Broncos. With all the attention most likely on Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski this could open things up for Ochocinco and the other Patriot wide receivers. If Ochocinco can get back the Denver secondary and Brady gets time in the pocket to throw, he could find Ochocinco for a big play or two, as was shown in the previous match-up. With the sub-par season Ochocinco had, this would be the perfect time for him to break out and have his best game.
With most of the attention going to Tom Brady and the Patriots wide receivers this could open the door for Green-Ellis to have a big game. Green-Ellis should be the one getting the majority of the carries Saturday night, considering Stevan Ridley is a rookie and has not had much experience. Green-Ellis is very reliable with the ball, as he has never lost a fumble in his NFL career. The Patriots will need to generate some running game in order to keep the defense honest and open the passing game for Brady and the offense. In the first match-up Green-Ellis rushed for 17 yards on 10 carries. In order for the Patriots to be successful he will need to be much better than that tomorrow night.
After only returning from injury just two weeks ago against the Bills, Spikes should be back to full strength Saturday night. Spikes his known for his ability to stop the run and the Broncos are a predominately running offense. Tim Tebow is a run first quarterback and Spikes could be used as a “spy” on Tebow when he drops back to pass. In only his second year in the league, Spikes was a major part of the Patriots defense until he went down with a knee injury in the October game with the Giants. He could be a major player on the Patriots defense tomorrow night.