Don’t be mistaken, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are not looking at the Broncos like a team that has stumbled to a 3-5 record. If you ask Belichick, and reporters did, he would gush over the Broncos historically good defense. It can not be stated enough that the Patriots and Tom Brady, in particular, have struggled against Denver. That fact certainly does not escape Belichick.
“Well, it’s another in a long line,” said Belichick when asked about facing the Denver defense. “They’ve been a great defensive team for many years. Their front is good. Domata Peko has given them a lot of solid plays inside. Adam Gotsis is a young player that’s improved. Derek Wolfe is one of the top players in the league. Shaquil Barrett, Shane Ray, Von Miller on the edge. Those guys are all good. Brandon Marshall is a good linebacker, fast, active, good coverage player.”
“They have three outstanding corners,” added Belichick. “Bradley Roby, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. Darian Stewart is a very physical safety. Justin Simmons has taken over for T.J. Ward, probably more of a free safety type than Ward was so he gives them a lot of range back there.”
If the Patriots are going to struggle, it will likely come on the offensive side of the ball given Denver’s strength on defense. And of course, the Patriots recent struggles on offense don’t help. Of late, the Patriots have been unable to score touchdowns when entering the red area, something unfamiliar with this Patriots team. If Chris Hogan does not suit up, and it looks likely that he won’t, then these issues may be magnified.
Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, holds a record of 7-9 (including playoffs) against the Broncos. He is 1-3 in the playoffs and 6-6 in the regular season, completing under 60 percent of his passes. Despite the Broncos struggles on offense, Brady will have to buck that trend in order to leave Denver with a victory.
“A lot of the games have been close,” Brady said on Wednesday, “There’s little margin of error when you go out there. We’re going to have to play good. They have a great defense. They have great players on both sides of the ball. You can’t go out there and make a bunch of mistakes and expect to win.”
In a game last season in Denver, the Patriots came away with a 16-3 victory. However, Brady completed just 50 percent of his passes, going 16-of-32 for just 188 yards and no touchdowns. His rating of 68.2 was by far his worst of the season. His second worst…89.2. It was also just the second game the entire season that Brady failed to throw a touchdown. The other was his only loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
One large caveat was the absence of tight end, Rob Gronkowski, in last year’s game. Former, at the moment, Patriot Martellus Bennett filled in admirably for Gronk, however, the absence of Gronkowski should not be understated.
In the end, Brady will have to be at his best in order for the Patriots to beat the Broncos. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it’s all about doing your job this week.
“What happened last week or next week isn’t going to matter much,” said Brady. “It’s really what we do this week. We’re going to have to play good to beat them. Hopefully, we can go execute and make a bunch of plays and that will take care of a lot of things for us.”
– Ian Glendon is the National Editor for cover32 and the Managing Editor for cover32/Patriots. He covers the NFL and New England Patriots. Like and follow on Follow @iglen31 Follow @cover32_NE and Facebook.