New England Patriots and Denver Broncos: Ranking The 30 Best Players

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Oct 7, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) following the game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

It’s widely believed that, in 2014, the AFC will go through either Denver or New England. From a talent standpoint, both the Patriots and Broncos appear to be a cut above the rest of the conference; having the two best quarterbacks in the conference—if not the entire league—further separates the two teams from the rest. Of the two, however, it’s unclear which team boasts the better roster. Last year, Denver had the better collection of talent, and really, it wasn’t close (see the 2013 AFC Championship game). With the recent free agent signings, as well as the return of Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, and Tommy Kelley, New England—at the very least—has significantly closed the talent gap. To that end, it seems appropriate to see how the two teams compare in terms of talent at the ‘top of the roster.’ To do so, I’ve ranked the top 30 players, placing each player in a tier—one being the highest, five being the lowest. Further, each tier is assigned a numerical value—30 points for tier one, and then 25, 15, 10, 5 respectively. The following criteria was used to determine the tiers:

  • Tier One: A+, Irreplaceable Players (30 points);
  • Tier Two: A, Quasi-Irreplaceable Players (25 points);
  • Tier Three: A-/B+, Great Players (15 points);
  • Tier Four: B+/B, Good Players (10 points); and
  • Tier Five: B/B-, Above Average Players (5 points)

*The cumulative point totals will then be added up. In theory, the team with more ‘high-end’ talent will be the team with the higher point total.*

*Note: I excluded players who primarily play special teams, as well as players drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.*