New England Patriots at Denver Broncos: Breaking Down the Matchups
By Hal Bent
Denver’s Outside Pass Rush
Wolfe is a beast inside and having the trio of otherworldly outside linebacker Von Miller, the emerging Shane Ray, and high-motor veteran DeMarcus Ware covers up weaknesses elsewhere. Miller is the premier defensive pass rusher in the NFL and with Ray and Ware splitting snaps to stay fresh, the edge pressure from Denver’s outside linebackers is the best in the league.
The Patriots are in the opposite situation of last year when they faced Denver twice with a patchwork offensive line. New England first started Sebastian Vollmer at left tackle, Shaq Mason at left guard, Bryan Stork at center, Josh Kline at right guard, and an injured Marcus Cannon at right tackle. In the AFC Championship game it was Vollmer, Kline, Stork, Mason and Cannon. Sixty percent of that offensive line is gone now.
The Broncos will bring some pressure for sure; they have great pass rushers and a dominant secondary. However, having a solid and athletic group with a healthy Nate Solder at left tackle, rookie Joe Thuney at left guard, impressive second-year center David Andrews, guard Shaq Mason, and healthy and resurgent right tackle Marcus Cannon. The starters have been excellent in run blocking and much improved in pass protection.
Denver’s glaring weakness against the run while facing Tennessee last week also included something often not seen in Denver; weak play by the interior linebackers. With Brandon Marshall already questionable after missing last week with a hamstring injury, fellow interior linebacker Todd Davis is also questionable with an oblique injury.