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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Oct 21 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Analysis: Early bye for Pats provides a chance to get healthy

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After another reported positive COVID-19 test on Saturday night, the NFL has made the decision to push the Patriots game against the Broncos to next Sunday at 1pm. For the Patriots, they're suddenly losing their bye week but getting a chance to catch their breath and hopefully get healthy.

They also won't have to play Denver with just one day of practice.

The Broncos will also suddenly have their bye week moved up three weeks and have to spend another full week of preparation on New England, while watching their re-scheduled game against Miami force complicated adjustments to the NFL schedule that affected eight teams.

With the extra time to catch their breath, New England will hope for continued negative tests and the chance to get their season back on track. By Wednesday, there's a chance the team could resume normal preparations and get back into a familiar routine.

The Pats were already expected to be without Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore against the Broncos, and now, according to NBC Sports, Byron Cowart can be added to that list. It's unclear if any could be available by next weekend, but Newton's return is greatly anticipated and for good reason.

The Broncos could also benefit from the delay, with starting quarterback Drew Lock likely to return to the starting lineup.

Gilmore and Cowart were significant parts of the Patriots defensive effort in Kansas City, and if Lock's back in the mix it could significantly alter the dynamics of the matchup. Cowart has been a key run stopper who would be needed against Melvin Gordon, while Gilmore had his best game of the season against the Chiefs and is the key piece of the Patriots defensive backfield.

As Bill Belichick stressed this week, the health of the team is the most important thing and though they're losing their bye week, they're getting an early chance to make sure everyone gets and stays healthy.

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