Big Game Hunting: Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

If you’ve ever wanted to try and introduce someone to American Football, this is the game to watch. In what promises to be one of the biggest games of the 2013 season, this Sunday the Denver Broncos take on the New England Patriots at Foxborough MA. Here’s a look at the game for new UK fans, and some big things to look out for.

So just how good are these teams?

Make no mistake, these are two pedigree NFL teams. Both are in with an excellent shot at Superbowl XLVIII and both have elite  Quaterbacks in the form of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Two of the greatest QB’s of the last decade, there’s no love lost between them and both have scores to settle.

Denver Broncos, AFC West

Denver have been a highly competitive team since the late 1970’s, and have only failed to reach the playoffs 6 times in the last 35 years and back-to-back Super Bowl wins in ’98 and ‘99. At 9-1 the Broncos have been the team to beat this year, with important wins over the Ravens, Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs in Weeks 1, 5 and 11. Only the Indianapolis Colts have managed to dent their record with a 33-39 loss in Week 7. Consistency has been an issue at times both for the Offensive and Defensive teams but crucially the Broncos have been able to rely on their phenomenal ability to outscore both their opponents, and whatever points they’ve given up through their own mistakes.

New England Patriots, AFC East

New England are another elite team that have consistently been in the top bracket, with 7 Super Bowl appearances since the start of the modern NFL era, and  wins in 2002, 2004 and 2005. At 7-3 they are still in the mix, but injuries throughout the season have left them vulnerable with a series of scrappy wins against sub-par teams in the shape of the Bill, Jets (who’d come back to wreak revenge in Week 7) and Falcons in Weeks 1,2 and 4. Steadily improving from mid Season the Patriots are approaching form just at the right time, and have relied heavily on their Defense to flatter a less than perfect Offense. But the Patriots have a knack for grinding out a win and will be one of the tougher games for Denver this season.

What to watch for

Pressure on the QB’s

Peyton’s ankles are dodgy and he’s slow in the pocket. The Chiefs didn’t manage to sack him once in their last game, and the Patriots defensive line will need to get to him. Peyton is also notorious for not playing well in cold weather, and Foxborough will be particularly wintry.

Tom Brady hasn’t had the best season, with a combination of poor passing and rookie receivers causing him evident frustration. Both will need to be in top form.

 

Battle of the Tight Ends

Julius Thomas and Rob Gronkowski are two of the most talented Tight Ends

Can the Broncos defend against New England’s Passing Game? History says no, and the Patriots are getting better and better in this area of the game. Look for Brady to target wunderkind and party animal Rob Gronkowski. Likewise Julius Thomas is one of the NFL’s elite Tight Ends, if he’s healthy expect him to build on his 590 yards and 10 touchdowns from this season.

Will Welker Play?

After two years of too-ing and fro-ing, New England rather unceremoniously released their former star Wes Welker in the offseason. He promptly signed with the Broncos in a fairly obvious snub to the Patriots. He came off with concussion in the last game but if he plays, expect fireworks.

Broncos Patriots Crib Sheet

We pick 5 players to keep your eyes peeled for.

Denver Broncos

  • Peyton Manning (18) Quarterback
  • Knowshon Moreno (27) Running Back
  • Demaryius Thomas (88) Wide Receiver
  • Wes Welker (83) Wide Receiver
  • Julius Thomas (80) Tight End

New England Patriots

  • QB Tom Brady (12) Quarterback
  • Rob Gronkowski (87) Tight End
  • Aqib Talib (31) Cornerback
  • Shane Vereen (34) Running Back
  • Danny Amendola (80) Wide Receiver