W2W4: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

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Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots face off against the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football as they play a second straight primetime game. The Patriots have a short week coming off their Monday night victory at home against Buffalo and now travel to Denver to take on the 8-2 Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos will be without longtime rival quarterback Peyton Manning who is sidelined with foot and rib injuries. The Patriots are banged-up as well as they lost wide receiver Aaron Dobson for the season chipping away at their thin wide receiver depth. Danny Amendola–being counted upon to fill in for the already injured Julian Edelman–tweaked his knee and missed much of the second half last week.

The New England Patriots have had a number of players on their injury report as linebacker Jamie Collins still has not practiced since his injury and may not play again Sunday night. Cornerback Justin Coleman is still out with a hand injury and four offensive linemen were limited in practice. New England is thin at multiple positions and the offense struggled without Amendola.

For the Broncos, the key players on the injury report besides Manning are former Eagles Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis and linebacker DeMarcus Ware who remained out of practice. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders missed last week’s win over the Chicago Bears but should play Sunday.

Early on it appeared this could be a matchup of two unbeaten teams, but the Broncos dropped games to Indianapolis on the road and Kansas City before Manning was mercifully benched. With third year quarterback Brock Osweiler behind center last week, the Broncos managed to put up 17 points against a bad Chicago Bears defense to eke out the two point victory.

The Patriots being depleted due to injuries and having problems scoring make this matchup much closer. The Denver defense is strong and tops in the league in fewest yards, fewest passing yards, fewest passing touchdowns, and second fewest yards per rushing attempt (all stats from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted).  

Since both teams are focusing on getting ready for their primetime showdown, let’s do the same and investigate both teams and what to watch for on Sunday and the game score prediction at the end of the analysis. Remember, you can follow my live tweets and in-game analysis during New England Patriots games at @halbent01 on Twitter.

Next: When the Broncos Run the Ball