We're only two days away from Brady vs. Manning XVI. Stephen White of* SB Nation* previewed the game by highlighting three big questions that will impact the game. Will the Patriots be able to generate a pass rush without Chandler Jones? Will the Broncos ride the running game? And will the Patriots be able to get a dynamic duo going against the Denver defense? White believes that the answers for these questions will determine which team will be victorious on Sunday.
Over at the Bleacher Report, James Christensen broke down the Patriots' game plan for stopping the Denver Broncos. He expects the Patriots's defense to use a lot of nickel and dime packages to force Manning to run the ball. On offense, he says that Brandon Lafell must establish himself as a physical presence.
"Talib has had success on tight ends in the past, and it will be interesting to see if he is tasked with checking Rob Gronkowski," says Christensen. "If the Broncos have no answer for Gronkowski, the rest of their game plan isn't needed—see the Chicago Bears for an example."
So who has the edge? Paul Perillo and Andy Gresh joined Gary Tanguay on Comcast SportsNet's 'Early Edition' to discuss which team has the edge in a handful of key matchups. Perillo believes that Julius Thomas vs. Brandon Browner will be a good matchup, but ultimately he gives the edge to Thomas.
"I think Julius Thomas has the edge in speed and agility," said Perillo on the show. "I think Brandon Browner is going to try to beat him up. So this is going to be a key matchup to me. If these guys lock up a lot, I give the edge to Julius Thomas, but not by as much as people might think."
It's inevitable that the Broncos offense will put up a lot of points on Sunday, which is why Tom Brady says the Patriots must score early and often. In a recent Boston Globe article, Michael Whitmer explains that the Patriots offense must be clicking on Sunday if they want to beat the Broncos. In the previous 15 Brady-Manning matchups, the winning team has scored an average of 31.8 points.
One way to get the offense going is by implementing the no-huddle. Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald says the Patriots can use the no-huddle to help control the tempo of the game and keep Denver's offense off the field. Last week the Patriots began using an up-tempo offense for the first time all year and it came with great results. Now that the receivers are more in-sync with the offense, Josh McDaniels is more apt to pick up the pace.
"There's nothing better than keeping an opponent off-balance and guessing," writes Guregian. "That's the way to go against the Broncos. Throw in the no-huddle right from the start of the quarter, or slide it in there in the middle of a series, or whenever the spirit moves Brady."
Sunday will be the fourth time Brady and Manning have played eachother since Manning became a Denver Bronco. Over the past three years, the two teams have been among the league's best teams are always seem to be in contention for a Super Bowl. In an article on ESPN.com, Kevin Seifert explains how each team has differed in their approach to building the roster and discusses which team has implemented the better philosophy.
"The 2014 AFC race will serve as a referendum on both the Broncos' aggressiveness and the Patriots' patience (or stubbornness, depending upon your point of view)," says Seifert. "The most visible difference: The Broncos' $124 million cash payroll this season is 20 percent higher than the Patriots'."
In preparation for Sunday's game, ESPN sent Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg to Foxborough to broadcast the 'Mike and Mike' radio show live from Gillette Stadium. Bill Belichick joined the set this morning but had some critique's for Mike Golic's Halloween costume. Make sure to check it out!