With punter Ryan Allen suffering a shoulder injury against the Colts last Saturday, a big question this week has been whether he will be able to play on Sunday against the Broncos. Nick Underhill of The Republican said that the Patriots have yet to work out any punters to replace Allen. The fact that New England has yet to bring in any punters shows optimism that Allen could be ready by Sunday. However, as NESN's Luke Hughes points out, Bill Belichick also acknowledged that kicker Stephen Gostkowski could fill in for Allen again if necessary.
ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss also added that he talked to a source that said the team is hopeful on Allen. He says that depending on how his shoulder responds to tests this week, Allen could be able to play by Sunday.
But while the Patriots have yet to make a roster change to replace Allen this week, the Broncos have been busy signing an ex-Patriot. NFL.com's Marc Sessler writes about the Denver Broncos addition of cornerback, Marquice Cole. Cole was released by New England in December after playing 165 snaps for the team in 2013. He fills a need in the secondary for Denver after cornerback Chris Harris was lost for the season with a torn ACL. This transaction is very similar to the Colts signing of Deion Branch last week. While both players certainly filled a need for their respective teams, they also were likely able to provide minor information on some of the Patriots' tendencies.
Michael Felger, Steve DeOssie, and Rob "Hardy" Poole discuss the value of Cole for the Broncos this week on Comcast Sports Net's Sports Tonight.
Tim Britton of the Providence Journal asks whether the Patriots will continue to "ground and pound" against Denver or whether they will try to exploit the Broncos' biggest weakness -- the passing game. Though New England has been running the ball exceptionally well, Britton notes that Denvers run defense ranks seventh in the league, while it's pass defense ranks 27th. With the absence of cornerback Chris Harris, the Broncos will likely have even more holes in the secondary. It will be interesting to see what road Brady and the offense take.
Boston.com's David Sabino offers his "Tale of the Tape" leading up to Sunday's game. He compares a number of stats between the two teams and also recaps the last time Denver and New England played. But in a more light-hearted "Tale of the Tape" article on Boston.com, Gary Dzen gives his own unique spin on this weekend's Brady-Manning matchup. He compares the two quarterbacks in fifteen categories, each of which have nothing to do with football. The categories include endorsements, choice of adult beverage, popularity, defining features, and wives. Dzen also lists which quarterback has the "edge" in each category.
Needless to say, Dzen gave Brady the edge in the "wife" category. Gisele Bundchen actually had some interesting things to say about her husband's focus during the playoffs. In an article written by the Associated Press, Bundchen said that they are both very supportive of one another and that he's been working extremely hard. She mentioned that while Brady is watching football and studying for the next game, she will put ear plugs in and read a book. According to her, it's important for Brady to watch fooball because he's "feeding his soul."
It's probably a good thing that Brady has learned how to tune out the noise and focus his attention on football because in a recent poll, the fans voted Brady as their least favorite quarterback -- Peyton Manning, on the other hand, was voted as the country's favorite. However, according to Jets Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Namath, its all because of jealousy. In an interview with the New York Metro, Namath sympathizes with Brady and explains why it makes sense that fans dislike him.
"Opponents having to play against Brady have to be legitimately angry seeing his smile on the sideline after touchdowns," said Namath in the interview. "It's kind of a compliment to be disliked by so many opponents. It comes from winning first."
Winning is certainly one way to describe the career of Tom Brady. He has won 148 games to only 43 losses, making him the winningest quarterback in NFL history. Statistically, 2013 was not Brady's best year, but the Patriots still won 12 games. Some even say it was one of Brady's most impressive seasons despite the statistical drop. NFL Network's Willie McGinest and Kurt Warner alongside Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, debate whether 2013 was Brady's best season of his career.[
Another post](http://www.boston.com/sports/blogs/obnoxiousbostonfan/2014/01/newenglandagainstworldbroncos_underdog.html) on Boston.com claims that the Patriots are the underdog once again and that everyone's rooting against them. In the article written by "Obnoxious Boston Fan" compares the Patriots to the Yankees, the Heat and the Canadiens and says that this Sunday's game isn't Peyton vs. Brady XV -- it's Peyton vs Satan XV. Similar to the years when the Patriots were winning Super Bowls, Belichick will most likely use the "us against the world" mantra to motivate the team this Sunday.
Team owner, Robert Kraft, echoes this idea and said that the 2013 Patriots remind him of the 2001 team that won the Super Bowl. In an interview with ESPN Radio he appalued the team's toughness and resiliency.
"It wasn't the biggest names or collection of stars. It was a team that had a certain mental toughness and truly played together as a team," said Kraft. "I think this year the sense of team and putting team first is at the highest level. We've learned its not the teams that have the best collection of talent, but it's the teams that really come together, especially in December and January."