Four weeks into the season, the Denver Broncos appeared finished. Just months off a Super Bowl win, the Broncos were 0-4 and they had lost John Elway to retirement, and John Mobley, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe to injuries.
The team was mired in an ongoing quarterback controversy, and Sports Illustrated ran a story that said several Broncos were ready to pack it in for the season. All the signs pointed to an easy win for the Patriots in Week Seven, but this is no longer the case.
Denver has won two straight, beating Oakland on the road and then battering Green Bay at Mile High Stadium last Sunday.
"After the first four weeks of the season, I think we hoped that Denver would just continue to lose," said Drew Bledsoe. "They were looking like a terrible team, but unfortunately for us that's not the case. The last couple of weeks they've looked very, very good."
Denver looked downright dominant against the Packers. They held the ball for more than 45 minutes, gained 514 yards in total offense and ran 82 plays. Brian Griese threw for two touchdowns, and Olandis Gary ran for 124 yards.
The defense will be well-rested after making quick work of Brett Favre and the Green Bay offense. The Broncos had to make just 18 tackles on defense, as Dale Carter, Ray Crockett and Bill Romanowski led the team with three tackles each.
Denver allowed just five first downs, stopped all eight Green Bay third-down tries and limited the Packers to 21 rushing yards. Favre was just 7-23 for 120 yards and was intercepted three times, once each by Carter and Crockett.
The Patriots have struggled lately on offense, and they had the ball for less than 20 minutes against Miami on Sunday. Bledsoe said New England will have to do better this week.
"I don't think anybody expected what their defense did to the Packers," Bledsoe said. "It becomes very apparent that we've got our work cut out for us."