Patriots vs. Broncos: 6 Sources of Worry
All week here on Musket Fire, we’re bringing you fresh points of analysis ahead of the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. This will be the Patriots’ toughest test of the year thus far, so there are no shortage of sources of worry. Here are six causes of concern for Patriots fans as Sunday afternoon inches closer.
6. Denver pass rush
The strength of this Broncos team is their defense, and at the root of that success is the pass rush. Having produced a league-leading 52 sacks in the regular season, the Broncos boast the best group of pass rushers in the NFL.
Von Miller led the charge in the regular season, corralling opposing quarterbacks 11 times behind the line of scrimmage. DeMarcus Ware echoed Miller, recording 7.5 sacks of his own. And then three players had 5.5 sacks—Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson and Shaquil Barrett.
What makes this especially worrying is the fact that the Patriots’ offensive line has been shaky over the past month or so. Over the course of the regular season in general, the Patriots fielded 13 different offensive line combinations, more than any other team. It was encouraging to see the pass protection hold up well in the Divisional Round against a very good Kansas City Chiefs pass rush, but the Broncos present an entirely different and more menacing threat.
Next: 5. Manning drinking from fountain of youth