By Danny Cox
The bye week for the New England Patriots didn't come at a great time - or even a bad time, but it was just there. There were not a lot of injuries to heal up and things have been going quite well for the Pats, but many fans simply hope it doesn't halt the momentum of a four-game winning streak.
Luckily for them, New England is heading to face a Denver Broncos team that is in the middle of a four-game losing streak, which includes a number of blowout losses.
Denver Broncos Season Record: 3-5
After starting the season 3-1, the Broncos looked as if they were going to be serious contenders in the AFC with the best defense in the NFL to boot. Now they've lost four in a row; the Broncos were shut out by the Chargers, overpowered by the Eagles, and handed the Giants their only win of the season.
Broncos On Offense
The Broncos really don't have a lot to show on offense as they rank in the bottom half of the NFL in yards-per-game and are not even putting up 19 points-per-game. Many thought a running game consisting of Devontae Booker, C.J. Anderson, and Jamaal Charles would dominate on the ground, but it has done very little to help this season.
In the passing game, things were shaken up last week as Trevor Siemian was replaced at quarterback by Brock Osweiler, but it did not make much of a difference against the Eagles. Denver just seems incredibly unorganized on offense and their lack of production in the last four weeks proves that.
Broncos On Defense
Denver is still the top-rated defense in the NFL as far as yardage goes, but that is changing. They allowed the Chargers to score 21 points on them and gave up 51 points to the Eagles this past weekend. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz absolutely torched the Broncos secondary—while he only threw for 199 yards, he did have four touchdowns.
Von Miller is still leading the way with eight sacks, but guys like Shaquil Barrett and Brandon Marshall know how to keep opposing quarterbacks looking in all directions. They've looked good throughout the season, but if they put on the same performance against the Pats that they did against the Eagles, New England could hang 70 points on the board.
Broncos Players To Watch: QB Brock Osweiler and S Justin Simmons
While Brock Osweiler is not new as far as his time in the NFL goes, he is new at getting back under center for the Broncos. He replaced Siemian after Denver's 29-19 loss against the Chiefs in Week 8, but did not fare any better. Osweiler completed 19-of-38 passes for 208 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions last week in a 51-23 Philadelphia rout.
Safety Justin Simmons may be in only his second NFL season, but he's already developing into a worthy leader in the secondary and on the defense overall. He has one interception this season and four passes defended, but he's second on the team in overall tackles. The young defensive back is fast and always seems to know where the ball is. Tom Brady will need to be careful when throwing anywhere near him this Sunday.
While no team should ever be underestimated in the NFL, the Denver Broncos are fading, and they're fading fast. This Sunday Night Football game should not be much of a problem for the New England Patriots if they play like they have been for the past month. Things could very well turn around for the Broncos with Osweiler back under center, but it's not going to be easy against the defending Super Bowl champs.
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