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Denver Broncos' Keys to Victory: Week 12 vs. New England Patriots

Ken Pomponio Avatar
November 28, 2015


Keys-to-Victory-Who: Denver Broncos (8-2) vs. New England Patriots (10-0)

What: 2015 Week 12

When: 6:30 p.m. MST, Sunday, Nov. 29

Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High


Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Radio: KOA (850 AM), The Fox (103.5 FM)

Odds: Patriots -3; O/U 43.5

Notable: The Broncos have won 25 of the 45 all-time meetings, including an 11-0 win streak from 1984-98 which coincided with John Elway’s career. New England, though, has won five of the last six, with the only loss coming in the 2013 AFC Championship Game. … Since Bill Belichick took the Pats’ reins in 2000, he’s gone 8-7 against the Broncos, including a 1-2 postseason record. … Tom Brady is 6-7 as a starter against the Orange & Blue, but is 2-5 in Denver, including a pair of playoff losses. He has thrown 28 touchdown passes and nine interceptions and has averaged 286 passing yards in those 13 games against Denver. … The Broncos are home underdogs for only the 25th time in the last 20 years but have gone 13-11 straight up and against the pointspread in those contests, including a 29-10 win over the Packers as three-point ’dogs Nov. 1. … The Patriots own a league-best 25-11 (.694) road record over the last five seasons.

The Keys

  • Keep miscues to a minimum: In some games Belichick’s Patriots will simply take it to the opposition; often times, though, they’ll just play sound and solid football and let the opposition beat itself. Belichick runs a yearly clinic in this discipline as the Patriots own an NFL-best plus-158 regular-season turnover differential since he took over in 2000. The Packers are a distant second with only half as many positive turnovers (79) during that span. Even more remarkable, the Patriots are 120-16 (.882) when getting two or more takeaways in a game since 2000 and are 128-12 (.914) when simply winning the turnover battle in a contest. They’re a pedestrian 57-53 (.518) when finishing equal in – or losing – the turnover battle. That has set the table for the Patriots’ success with a .740 regular-season winning percentage, a 21-8 playoff record and four Lombardi Trophies in six Super Bowl appearances. As if enough pressure isn’t already on Brock Osweiler making his second career start, and first in Denver, playing turnover-free – as the Broncos did last Sunday in Chicago – is particularly vital this week. According to ESPN Stats & Information, quarterbacks making their first or second career starts are 1-8 against Belichick’s New England teams.
  • Special teams could play special role: The focus, naturally, is on Osweiler and Brady facing the league’s top two defenses in terms of points allowed, but special teams can’t be overlooked and the onus will be on both sides to maintain their strong play in the third phase of the game. Kickers Brandon McManus and Stephen Gostkowski have one missed field goal between them on 45 combined attempts and have made each of their 58 total extra-point tries. Kickoff returns, of course, don’t figure to be a factor at altitude, but the injury absence of Danny Amendola will hurt the Patriots’ punt-return game, though, as he’s averaged a league-best 13.3 yards per runback. Omar Bolden has taken over as the primary return specialist for the Broncos and has had his shares of ups and downs the past few games, returning a punt 83 yards for a TD against the Colts in Week 9 but misplaying a kickoff last Sunday in Chicago into a near-disaster.
  • Magic number is 23: There’s a “magic” number – a line of demarcation or tipping point, if you will – with practically every team or player, and with Brady’s Patriots, it happens to fall at 23. Here’s why: Over the last 10 seasons, Brady-led Patriots teams are an eye-popping 110-8 (.932) when scoring 23 or more points in a regular-season or playoff game. When scoring 22 or fewer, however, that won-loss record slips all the way down to 12-26 (.316), and one of those under-23 wins (20-13) came last week against the Bills. Can the Pats do it again if they need to, or will the Broncos’ D and New England’s myriad offensive injuries prove to be the difference Sunday night? The answer will likely be revealed by the Patriots’ point total.

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