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Game Preview: Broncos at Patriots

20201014-GamePreview-PDC-updated

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-2) VS. DENVER BRONCOS (1-3)
Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Gillette Stadium.

The New England Patriots vs. the Denver Broncos game was re-scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 18, on what was originally slated to be the Patriots Bye Week.

This week's game will mark New England's third consecutive matchup against an AFC West opponent. The Patriots hosted the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 27, and played at the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 5. This occurrence is the first time since 2016 that the Patriots have played three straight games against teams from another division. New England played three consecutive games against the AFC North - at Cleveland, vs. Cincinnati and at Pittsburgh in Weeks 5-7 - during the 2016 season.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos will meet for the first time since a Sunday Night Football game in Denver on Nov. 12, 2017, when the Patriots pulled out a 41-16 win at Sports Authority Field. It marked a streak of seven straight seasons with a regular-season meeting between the clubs.

The Patriots will host Denver for the first time since 2014 when New England beat the Broncos, 43-21, at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 2.

Denver leads the overall series by a 26-22 margin in the regular season and a 4-1 margin in the postseason. The Patriots and Broncos have played in three Divisional Playoff games and two AFC Championship Games.

The Patriots have played more games against the Broncos than any other team that has never been in New England's division.

The history between the teams dates back to the initial season of the American Football League in 1960. The Patriots played the Broncos in the inaugural game of each franchise, a 13-10 Denver win on Sept. 9, 1960, at BU Field in Boston. The teams squared off twice a year in the decade prior to the AFL-NFL merger, except for 1967 and 1969.

SERIES BREAKDOWN

DENVER 30, NEW ENGLAND 23
(INCLUDING POSTSEASON)

  • Home Record 12-9 (1-0 playoffs)
  • Road Record 11-21 (0-4 playoffs)
  • Total Points in the Series Broncos 1,198, Patriots 1,173
  • Bill Belichick vs. Denver 10-13 (10-9 with New England)
@DB111217_DS0592

SCOUTING THE MATCHUPS

By Paul Perillo

When the Patriots run - Edge: Patriots

A lot has happened during the week that this game was originally supposed to take place, but in reality we don't know much more now than we did before the postponement. That's especially true with regard to Cam Newton's status, and that could have an impact on the Patriots ability to run the ball. Newton provides so many options to the team's ground game, both as a runner himself and as a threat to the defense. His absence means the Broncos would have one less player to account for on run defense, and Denver has actually been reasonably effective in that department this season. Denver's 3-4 front ranks 11th in the league in rushing defense, allowing 109 yards per game through four weeks. Nose tackle Mike Purcell lines up between ends DeShawn Williams and Shelby Harris in front of an active pair of inside linebackers in Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson. The Patriots want to establish the run, whether Newton is part of the equation or not. The offensive line has been rock solid in that department, and with Damien Harris now in the lineup after opening on IR the running back corps has more depth and possibly more explosiveness. Harris showed some of that with a terrific 41-yard run last Monday night en route to a 100-yard effort. The Patriots piled up 185 yards on the ground even without Newton, and that was with starters David Andrews and Shaq Mason out of the lineup. The Patriots should be able to move it in the running game against Denver as well.

When the Patriots pass - Edge: Broncos

This is where Newton's availability really comes into play. Neither Brian Hoyer nor Jarrett Stidham looked ready to lead an NFL offense in Kansas City. Hoyer made several mental and physical mistakes and Stidham could very well get the start should Newton not be cleared in time to take on the Broncos. But Stidham didn't show great promise throwing the ball either, particularly on his second interception when he missed Damiere Byrd for a potential touchdown. He was thrust into a very difficult spot with little practice time to prepare, though, so it's possible he could improve if given another chance. The Patriots should have opportunities in the passing game against a Denver secondary that has struggled. Corner A.J. Bouye remains on IR with a shoulder injury, leaving Michael Ojemudia and Bryce Callahan as the starters along with safeties Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons. That group ranks 21st in pass defense, allowing 256 yards per game. Opponents have thrown seven touchdowns while the Broncos have just one interception through four weeks. Whether it's Newton, Stidham or Hoyer they could use a return to form for Julian Edelman. The trusty wideout has struggled with drops and hasn't been his normal self after the catch as he deals with a knee injury. Byrd has been quietly consistent while N'Keal Harry is chipping in with some plays as well. The backs should remain part of the passing game, and they will need to continue their fine work in pass protection against some of the ILB blitzes the Broncos have used recently. The passing game has been just average with Newton, and without him things got ugly in KC.

When the Broncos run - Edge: Patriots

Melvin Gordon is enjoying a bit of a bounce back in his first season in Denver, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with three rushing touchdowns. The problem is Denver has been playing mostly from behind and hasn't been able to lean on him as much as they would like. Also, the versatile Phillip Lindsay has been out since Week 1 due to a toe injury. Coach Vic Fangio believes Lindsay will play against the Patriots, which could provide Denver with a solid one-two backfield punch. The Patriots turned in a strong effort on run defense in Kansas City, often playing with light fronts while dealing with the Chiefs potent air attack. Despite that, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise in particular did a great job containing Clyde Edwards-Helaire, limiting him to just 4 yards per carry. That tandem will be counted on once again as Byron Cowart's status is in question after his positive COVID-19 test. The mindset on defense should change this week as the Broncos limited passing attack should translate into more bodies being devoted to stopping Gordon and Lindsay. Fangio likely wants to establish the ground game to help protect third-string quarterback Brett Rypien, in the event that starter Drew Lock remains out of the lineup, and keep him out of obvious passing situations. But the Patriots will not allow that to happen often and should have enough to keep the Broncos in check.

When the Broncos pass - Edge: Patriots

At the start of the season this matchup had the potential to be interesting. Second-year quarterback Drew Lock showed promise in limited work as a rookie, and with receivers Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick as well as tight end Noah Fant at his disposal the Broncos looked like an offense on the rise. Then Lock went down with a shoulder injury and will likely miss his third straight game, although the postponed will give him a chance to get back in the lineup. Sutton is lost for the season on IR, Hamler's hamstring will keep him out of the lineup and Fant is questionable with an ankle injury. Only Jeudy and Patrick finished their Week 4 over the Jets, leaving Rypien with very few options. Rypien, a former practice squad quarterback who took over for backup Jeff Driskel two weeks ago, made some plays against the Jets in posting the win, but he also tossed three interceptions and nearly cost his team the game. The injuries, coupled with Rypien's inexperience and a struggling offensive line point toward another turnover-filled game for the former undrafted rookie who is the nephew of former Washington quarterback Mark Rypien. The Patriots secondary usually feasts on situations like this, and it would not be surprising to see some confusion leading to more picks for the Patriots – even if Stephon Gilmore is out on the lineup.

Special Teams - Edge: Patriots

Nick Folk remains a question mark but he made both of his kicks in Kansas City and came away perfect for the first time this season. Jake Bailey was solid against the Chiefs as well, backing up KC on a number of occasions. He remains a strength in terms of flipping field position. Denver has a trusty kicker in Brandon McManus, who has just one miss this season and that came from 58 yards out at Heinz Field, a traditionally tough place for kickers. The Broncos have a slight edge in the return game with Diontae Spencer, who took a punt back 41 yards earlier this season. The Patriots welcomed Gunner Olszewski back into the lineup and he returned punts in his season debut. Neither side has gotten anything on kick returns while both teams have enjoyed solid work in covering both kicks and punts with the Patriots being more consistent, especially on kicks.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Table inside Article
2020 REGULAR SEASON NEW ENGLAND DENVER BRONCOS
Record 2-2 1-3
Divisional Standings 2nd 4th
Total Yards Gained 1,584 1,227
Total Offense (Rank) 396.0 (8) 306.8 (29)
Rush Offense 179.8 (2) 92.5 (29)
Pass Offense 216.3 (24) 214.5 (27)
Points Per Game 24.3 (22) 20.5 (28)
Total Yards Allowed 1,396 1,461
Total Defense (Rank) 349.0 (11) 265.3 (16)
Rush Defense 115.3 (18) 109.0 (13)
Pass Defense 233.8 (12) 256.3 (22)
Points Allowed / Game 23.0 (11) 24.5 (13)
Possession Avg. 32:26 29:07
Sacks Allowed / Yards Lost 7/39 13/106
Sacks Made / Yards 6/41 10/78
Total Touchdowns Scored 12 9
Penalties Against / Yards 11/135 21/210
Punts / Avg. 10/48.4 16/43.0
Turnover Differential +1 (13T) -6 (30T)

Patriots.com's Mike Dussault shares his players to watch ahead of the Patriots matchup against the Denver Broncos.

SCARY GOOD IN OCTOBER

The Patriots are an NFL-best 65-19 in the month of October since the 2000 season.

CONNECTIONS

FORMER PATRIOTS

  • Duke Dawson was a second round pick by the Patriots in 2018, spent time on IR and the active roster, but never saw game action. He and a seventh Round pick were traded to Denver in August 2019 for a 6th round pick in return.

FORMER BRONCOS

  • OC Josh McDanials - Head Coach – (2009-2010)
  • QBC Jedd Fisch – Wide Receivers Coach – (2008)
  • OL James Ferentz - (2015-16)

NEW ENGLAND TIES

  • S Justin Simmons – College: Boston College (2012-15)
  • OL Elijah Wilkinson – College: UMass (2013-16)
  • HC Vic Fangio – Coaching: Milford (CT) Academy - Defensive Coordinator (1982)

WORTH NOTING

  • Broncos tight end Andrew Beck was originally signed by the Patriots out of the University of Texas in May 2019. Denver claimed him off waivers in September 2019.
  • Denver defensive lineman Mike Purcell spent time on the Patriot's practice squad in the 2017 season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

  • The Patriots have eclipsed 200 yards rushing as a team in each of their first two home games this season, netting 217 Week 1 vs. Miami and 250 Week 3 vs. Las Vegas. With 200 yards rushing this week vs. Denver, New England would join the 1976 and 1978 teams as the only Patriots squads to eclipse 200 yards rushing in three consecutive home games. The Patriots have rushed for 467 yards in their first two home games in 2020.
  • Bill Belichick enters this week third all-time with 275 career regular-season wins, behind George Halas (318) and Don Shula (328).
  • Belichick's 306 career victories as a heads coach (including postseason) are third-most all-time behind George Halas (324) and Don Shula (347).
  • Julian Edelman enters Week 5 with 617 career regular-season receptions, second-most in team history behind Wes Welker's 672.
  • With one touchdown catch, Edelman will tie Welker with his 37th career touchdown reception, good for sixth-most in team history.
  • Edelman has 41 career touchdowns overall, good for 11th in franchise history. Gino Cappelletti, Irving Fryar and Larry Garron are tied for eighth with 42 career touchdowns.
  • The Patriots are 22-3 (postseason included) when Julian Edelman catches a touchdown pass.
  • Cam Newton enters Week 6 with 29,755 career regular-season passing yards and needs 245 yards to become the 48th quarterback in NFL history to reach the 30,000-yard passing plateau.
  • Newton needs 45 yards rushing to reach 5,000 for this career. Michael Vick (6,109) is the only other quarterback with 5,000 rushing yards.
  • Newton has the most rushing first downs by quarterback in NFL history with 374 and has 15 through five games in 2020.
  • Newton has 35 rushing attempts so far in 2020, on pace for 136 rushing attempts. The NFL record for most rushing attempts by an NFL quarterback is 176 in 2019 by Lamar Jackson. Cam Newton's single-season career-high was 139 rushing attempts in 2017.
  • James White 24 touchdown receptions in 80 career regular-season games. Brian Westbrook currently holds the record for the fastest running back to reach the 25-TD reception mark, achieving the feat in 87 regular-season games.
  • White needs two receiving touchdowns to tie Larry Garron (26) for the most in franchise history by a running back.
  • White currently sits ninth on the Patriots all-time receptions list with 330. Irving Fryar holds the eight spot with 363 regular-season receptions as a Patriot.
  • Since White became a regular contributor on offense in 2015, he has more receptions (325), receiving yards (2,854) and receiving touchdowns (24) than any other running back in the NFL.
  • With his next interception, Devin McCourty (27) will tie Mike Haynes for sixth all-time in Patriots history with 28 career interceptions.
  • If McCourty returns another interception for a TD this season, he will tie the team record with two pick-sixes in a single year. The feat has been accomplished nine times.

IF THE PATRIOTS WIN...

  • New England will improve on the NFL's best regular-season home record since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. The Patriots enter Week 5 with a 123-23 (.841) record in regular-season games and a 142-27 (.840) overall mark at Gillette Stadium
  • And a player eclipses 100 yards rushing, the team will improve to 53-2 since the 2000 regular season when a player rushes for at least 100 yards.
  • And the team does not commit a turnover, New England will win its 70th game since 2008 without committing a turnover. The Patriots enter Week 5 with a 69-9 record in zero turnover games since 2008.

BROADCAST INFO

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Kevin Harlan will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Melanie Collins will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Ken Mack and directed by Suzanne Smith.

SATELLITE RADIO: SIRIUS: 99 (Den), 94 (NE) - XM: 391 (Den), 233 (NE)

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 38 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

For information on how to stream the game please visit our Ways to Watch guide.

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