Nov 18, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) on the sidelines in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Finally, the weekend is here, distractions are out of the way and everyone can give full attention to the important part of the week: Sunday night and the Patriots-Broncos game. So, lets take a look at this mornings links, chat and hype. Just in case there’s an angle of this game that hasn’t been covered.
NFL.com are looking at it in a nice, understated way: “What’s at stake in the Broncos-Patriots showdown?” asks Gregg Rosenthal. The game has plenty of playoff impact and implications, but really, who wants to see the Patriots lose to a Manning? That’s what is really at stake here.
MassLive, meanwhile, are taking a look at the history between Peyton Manning and Coach Belichick, and the rivalry between the QB and the Hooded One, both during his time with the Patriots and as a defensive coordinator.
Match-ups and player focus are very much the theme for the day, and the Boston Herald has a series of pieces looking at certain personnel challenges facing the Patriots. First, Kyle Arrington vs Wes Welker. While Arrington terrifies me when in coverage on the outside, he is good defending the slot, and being able to keep Welker from having a big game will be huge on Sunday.
Secondly, TE Julius Thomas, who isn’t a certainty to play, but could be a real problem for the Patriots defence to cover (especially given the issues that they had with Jeff Cumberland, who is a significantly less talented player). On the Patriots side, Chandler Jones has been talking about how the pressure is on the defence to step up against the Broncos. One interesting stat from this piece: when Manning made his NFL debut, Chandler Jones was 8 years old.
Bleacher Report have been discussing the switching of roles between the Patriots offence and defence during the 2013 season, with the offence becoming more important as the rookies have integrated and injuries have hit the defence in critical spots.
And finally, Gronk news: he doesn’t understand time travel.
Have a good weekend. Go Pats!