W2W4: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

5 of 6

When the Patriots Pass the Ball:

Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

A month ago, this would have been the best matchup of the season. The big question would be how does Denver cover Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and account for Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola? Instead, injuries have ravaged the receiving depth for the Patriots as Lewis is out for the season with a knee injury and Edelman is sidelined with a broken bone in his foot until Christmas time.

Even the back-ups are banged-up for New England as third wide receiver Keshawn Martin has been out for five weeks with a hamstring injury, Aaron Dobson is out of the season with an ankle injury, and Danny Amendola is questionable with a knee injury. The Patriots are down to Brandon LaFell–still trying to get back to speed after missing training camp and the first five games of the season after foot surgery–and undrafted rookie free agent Christopher Harper as their two healthy wide receivers. Heck, the Patriots may have to turn to special teams captain Matthew Slater to step in and take snaps at wide receiver.

Look for the Patriots to return to their two tight-end look as they try to compensate for an offensive line which is trying to get back on track after injuries. Marcus Cannon and Sebastian Vollmer returned to the tackle spots after missing time with injuries and center Bryan Stork played at center for the first time last week replacing undrafted free agent David Andrews. Guard Josh Kline has jumped back and forth from the left side to the right side at guard while Shaq Mason has pulled away from an injured Tre’ Jackson at the other guard spot.

Live Feed

2023 NFL Draft: Official Draft Week full two-round mock
2023 NFL Draft: Official Draft Week full two-round mock /


  • Madden 24 cover athlete prediction: Five deserving stars App Trigger
  • 2023 NFL Draft: 3 players the Patriots should absolutely draft Chowder and Champions
  • NFL rumors: Surprise team, and not the Panthers, could draft Will Levis FanSided
  • Patriots 2023 NFL Draft: Why drafting a tight end is intriguing Chowder and Champions
  • NFL Power Rankings based on Super Bowl Odds Prior to 2023 NFL Draft Betsided
  • Rob Gronkowski remains healthy and should be a matchup problem for Denver. Safety T.J. Ward may have ended his 2013 season with a low hit to the knees while in Cleveland, but Ward’s over-aggressive play often leads to big plays in the secondary while freelancing and trying to make the big hit rather than the sure tackle. Ward will have a role covering Gronkowski, but Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan also will have key roles.

    Blocking tight end Michael Williams is questionable with a knee injury and New England brought on Asante Cleveland from the practice squad to join Scott Chandler at the position. Chandler has been a disappointment to date in his first year in New England and needs to make an impact sooner rather than later on the field. This week would be a great time for him to start doing just that.

    Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Von Miller is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, regardless of the sack numbers he puts up. He gets his sacks seemingly each week and is near impossible to block with a single tackle. The loss of DeMarcus Ware hurts, but 2014 undrafted free agent Shaquil Barrett has outmaneuvered top rookie Shane Ray (who has been dinged up so far in 2015) for playing time. Barrett can generate some pressure in bursts, but the more he has played the more opposing defenses have figured out how to slow him down.

    The cornerback position is where Denver has a huge advantage over most teams. Patriots fans are well-acquainted with Aqib Talib and his aggressive coverage. Talib was highly appreciated by the fans in New England for his confidence and big plays. He is joined by Chris Harris Jr., who has passed Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman as the best coverage cornerback in the league.

    Harris can play inside and outside covering the slot and outside the numbers. Look for him to cover Danny Amendola if Amendola is able to play. Talib with length, strength, and long arms will likely draw coverage on Brandon LaFell and probably will help out in coverage of Gronkowski as well. Second year Bradley Roby is an embarrassment of riches for Denver as he is the third cornerback but could be the number one corner on a dozen or more NFL teams.

    Tom Brady is going to have to be on target this week with the Broncos run defense, Von Miller, and the strong secondary. It would be a tough matchup with everyone healthy, but it could be another tough game where the Patriots will have to


    Next: Summary & Game Score Prediction