Expectations for the Denver game

Oswlek

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I thought about putting this in one of the longer threads, but decided it might get buried under an avalanche of other good information. I also considered Den-in-NH's prediction thread, but felt it wasn't quite germaine. Mods may certainly merge if they feel that it should have been in either of those.

Deliberating this game has lead me to having expectations, some good and some bad. Before getting into them, here are a few preemptive thoughts about this team heading into the playoffs.

* This team is more playoff ready than either of the last two failures, having taken haymakers by virtually every team they've faced for the last two months, and coming back in every one. Even the losses were kept closer than they probably should have.

* The defensive unit has better understanding of each other's capabilities than they did last year. As much as the offense is the focal point, the defense has needed to make 3-4 plays or else the L's would probably have been twice as much.

* Unlike 2009 and 2010, and to a lesser extent, the SB in 2007, health is on the upswing.

* Continuing on the health theme, the Pats/Broncos replay was eye opening. On nearly every successful play by Denver, of the 4 guys who consistently converged on the ball carrier, 3 of them may not even set foot on the field this week, Ihedigbo, Slater/Brown and Jones. Fletcher was also usually around the tackle and you'd expect Spikes to steal a number of his snaps. Interesting that 4 of 11 guys who all played virtually every down may not play a full game's snaps combined.

Now despite all of those being positive, I do have some concerns about this game. On to the expectations.

* I expect this to be a close game. Even if you exclude the the 2005 and 2006 teams that weren't quite as good as the early decade counterparts, the 2nd round has consistently been a struggle for the Patriots.

2001 needed a 4th quarter rally from 10 points down and overtime, whereas they raced out to a 21-3 lead against Pitt. 2003 was very, very close to being a predecessor to 2010 and then went on to dominate Indy. Indy gave NE all they could handle in 2004 for a half whereas Pitt was run over. Hell, even in 2007 Jax was much more of a handful than I expected them to be.

That second round has consistently been more of a challenge than the season would suggest.

Of course, it could be said that all of those teams were better than this Denver squad, which is true. But I think that will be offset somewhat by the fact that this team is less experienced and needs to learn to win in the postseason.

* I expect Logan Mankins to have a personal foul penalty.

* I expect at least one 20+ pass interference penalty on a NE defender.

* I expect the defense to play out the same way it did down the stretch, start slow, adjust and improve. I'm not buying the rope-a-dope theory and think what you see is what you get.

* Because of this, I expect Denver to score a TD on their opening possession. I also expect Denver to win the TOP for the first 20 minutes decisively, with at least one 6+ minute drive.

* Despite the improving overall team health, I am concerned that any residual injury issues all seem to be concentrated on the OL. If there is one way that Denver is going to win this game, it is by winning on the LOS. I expect Denver to be more successful rushing Brady than they were last time, especially early on, partly due to health and partly due to adjustments on their part.

* I don't think that Denver is going to make as many big plays as they did against Pitt, or even in the earlier matchup. That said, I expect Denver to have frustratingly consistent success running the ball between the 20s.

* I expect this game to be within one score in the 4th quarter, something like 20-17 perhaps with Denver in the lead, and the final 10 minutes what ultimately decides the outcome.

* "I can't believe the Patriots might lose this game" will be a consistent thought in living rooms and mancaves around the state, before NE pulls away at the end for a 27-20 victory.

Of course, the advantage to all this is the performance will lead everyone to deride the team all week leading into the AFCCG, giving NE full right to the disrespect card. :archive:
 

dchester

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I think the key thing will be whether the Broncos can hit Brady. If not, the Pats will score 30 plus, and I don't see Denver doing the same.
 

midgar8784

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Man I hope you are wrong on some of that, or the Pats are going to lose....on your quote "Indy gave NE all they could handle in 2004 for 3 quarters whereas Pitt was run over" Didnt we win that game 20-3? I do not remember that game being very competitive.
 
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Oswlek

Oswlek

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Man I hope you are wrong on some of that, or the Pats are going to lose....on your quote "Indy gave NE all they could handle in 2004 for 3 quarters whereas Pitt was run over" Didnt we win that game 20-3? I do not remember that game being very competitive.

6-3 at the half.
 

midgar8784

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6-3 at the half.

Yeha, I guess I mean from a standpoint of what the colts were and how they could score in 2004 and with how our pass defense was that year, 6-3 seems like a dominate performance at least on one side of the ball. I remember going into that game, that I thought they would come out and be throwing dillon haymakers, but they came out in like 4 wide....never know what the pats are up to.
 

Beaglebay

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*** Courtesy of the Denver Broncos Media Services Department ***
<table style="border: 2px solid #0e0149; height: 0px; text-align: center;" bgcolor="#c0c0c0" border="2" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2" width="600"><tbody><tr> <td colspan="6" bgcolor="#f56409">DENVER BRONCOS</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">Player (Pos.)</td> <td style="text-align: center;">Injury</td> <td style="text-align: center;">Wed. Participation</td> <td style="text-align: center;">Thur. Participation</td> <td style="text-align: center;">Fri. Participation</td> <td style="text-align: center;">Friday Status</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">David Bruton (S)</td> <td>Achilles</td> <td>Limited</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">Brian Dawkins (S</td> <td>Neck</td> <td>DNP</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">Eric Decker (WR)</td> <td>Knee</td> <td>DNP</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">Elvis Dumervil (DE)</td> <td>Ankle</td> <td>Limited</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">Daniel Fells (TE)</td> <td>Ankle</td> <td>Limited</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">Von Miller (LB)</td> <td>Thumb</td> <td>Full</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;">Lonie Paxton (LS)</td> <td>Personal</td> <td>DNP</td></tr></tbody></table>
 

PatsFanDan

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Despite the improving overall team health, I am concerned that any residual injury issues all seem to be concentrated on the OL. If there is one way that Denver is going to win this game, it is by winning on the LOS. I expect Denver to be more successful rushing Brady than they were last time, especially early on, partly due to health and partly due to adjustments on their part.

This is the game right here IMO. If the Pats O-line does its job and plays well Saturday night, the Pats most likely win this game handily. If they don't and Brady ends up on his back a few times too many, this ends up being a close game that could go either way.
 

O_P_T

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6-3 at the half.

Isn't that the game where we had an almost 10 min drive in the 3rd Qtr?

Assuming it is, I'm not sure how one can argue that Indy was giving the pats "all they can handle" during the 3rd Qtr.
 
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Oswlek

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Isn't that the game where we had an almost 10 min drive in the 3rd Qtr?

Assuming it is, I'm not sure how one can argue that Indy was giving the pats "all they can handle" during the 3rd Qtr.

For some reason, I remembered that drive as starting in the 3rd quarter and carrying over into the 4th, so I was obviously wrong.

However, that doesn't in any way change the larger point. 6-3 is still tougher than 24-3, right?
 

JD10367

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Yes, the O-liners are dinged up. But, at this time of year, everyone's dinged up. The fact that everyone's at least AT practice bodes well.

Between a fairly stocked O-line (minus the center position), two tight ends, a blocking fullback, and a full stable of running backs, this team is in a great position to avoid the recent postseason failures of letting rushers come up the middle.

This is the week to dust off some old plays that haven't seen the light of day for a while. Everyone knows Brady's going to Welker for 3DCs, and going to Gronk near the end zone. Everyone knows that AHern is a matchup nightmare. But this is the week to remind people of EVERYTHING this team can do. If the Broncos try to rush up the middle on 3rd-and-medium, a few quick flare passes to the sidelines towards Woody and Faulk will remind people that the Pats can also play side-to-side; if those guys break a few 15-yarders under those circumstances, it'll keep the heat off Brady. And this might be a good week to remind everyone the Pats CAN run the ball; everyone concentrates on the passing game, it might be time to introduce the NFL viewing public to Messrs. Ridley and Vereen.
 

Jaric

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My expectations are that by the time the game starts I will have heard enough of Tim Tebow to last 10 lifetimes.

It's too bad, because I don't think any of it is his fault, but I'm starting to hate him because the football talking heads can't seem to shut the **** up about him.
 

grog

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I also expect the weather to keep this game closer than maybe it should be. While both teams are bad weather outdoor teams, neither team has really had to deal with very much cold weather so far this season.

I think we need to avoid a slow start too. If we start slow, it could be a long evening.
 

chevss454

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* Madden simulation: Patriots 45, Broncos 20.
When Willis McGahee runs through the Pats for a seven-yard touchdown to open the game, even the virtual "Madden" fans had to be shaking their heads in disbelief. Could the Broncos really go into New England and upset the Patriots? But all that touchdown did was light a fire under Tom Brady and crew, with the Pats exploding for 45 points, including three through the air, as Brady knifes his way through the Denver secondary for 314 yards in the win.

* AccuScore simulations: Patriots 35, Broncos 18 (average of more than 10,000 simulations). Click HERE to simulate the game yourself.

Os, you're more pessimistic than I've seen you all year. I don't share your pessimism, fortunately for me. The Pats are more focused than I've seen them all year. Keep your chin up, buddy. We'll be alright.
:thumb:
 

Pneumonic

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I expect a close battle should the Pats start off slow. I expect an easy win should the Pats not start off slow.

Score prediction:

Pats 38
Broncs 20
 

Michigan Dave

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I am supremely confident in this game tomorrow. Moreso than any playoff game I can think of. This is the best possible matchup for us. The perfect storm. Some opportunities to look stupid:

- I think this will be a quintessential Belichick defensive game. Everything is aligning for that to happen. The return of Spikes and Chung solidifies the run defense. LeBeau made glaring errors in scheme that have been the focus of the week and allowed Tebow to open it up downfield in a comfortable manner. Playing the safeties up, selling out against the run...everyone knows that was a fatal flaw. I think back to what one of my QB friends in the league shared with me about the wholly confusing nature of playing Belichick's disguised defenses. I think of the possibility of easily baiting Tebow by showing a run-heavy pre-snap alignment. I smile widely like the Grinch, knowing what would come next.

- The natural counter to that would be that we did no such thing a month ago, and were burned by a rather traditional rushing attack early. However, that is a flawed proposition, because of the circumstances. Denver adjusted their philosophy mid-season to a more option based, QB centric running offense. It is clearly unique to the NFL. It produced wins. The closest thing I can see is the 2008 Miami wildcat (which wasn't even a base O). The Pats got burned as the first victim, which had to be thrown out, but it worked for a while, film showed weaknesses, Belichick beat it the second time around, and it died out shortly thereafter. Similarly, we HAD to gameplan last month straight up for Denver's offense because we didn't know what to expect because no one else does that. We adjusted in game based on what we saw live and it looked good after some rough spots. Now, we can carry over the tweaks we made live and import some wrinkles to make them think. It should be beautiful.

- We will win the turnover margin by at least +2. Chess game mentality again. I wouldn't be surprised to see an 8-10 yard out jumped for six. Our D will control the game and force lower percentage plays.

- Ridley emerges as RB1. Not a bold prediction, but one that would be positive. I do worry about ball security with him.

- Pats jump out to a lead early, silencing doubters because of recent slow starts.

In all, I'm pretty confident it will be a great weekend. Not sure who I want to see next week. Baltimore and Houston are pretty much the same team. Neither Flacco nor Yates worries me, but the prospect of facing Arian Foster and Andre Johnson is somewhat unsettling.
 
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Oswlek

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I think back to what one of my QB friends in the league shared with me about the wholly confusing nature of playing Belichick's disguised defenses.

Care to elaborate? I don't expect the name, but some more detail would be appreciated.
 

imapig

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I expect this game to be a hard hitting defensive battle in the first quarter,but things open up in the 2nd quarter when Brady figures out the defensive scheme. By the time the 3rd quarter hits the Patriots Machine is in high gear. I expect 40 percent of our plays will be run and we will be in perfect balance. Patriots 41 White Horse 13
 

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Care to elaborate? I don't expect the name, but some more detail would be appreciated.

Sure. It wasn't in great detail, in fact it was something I had noted after the fact to talk about sometime in the future. Basically, I was boasting (shocking, I know) about the fortunes of the Pats for the upcoming season. We were somehow talking about the defense- I believe a guy who had played in the division brought it up- and they started talking about how it is almost impossible to read the coverages from the LOS and that film study helps minimally. Belichick does an amazing job at designing coverages to the point that only the hyper-elite QBs really can read and recognize based on tendency and situational analysis.

I had a similar conversation with a buddy who is friends with one of the Lions QBs after the preseason game this year. He shared something similar, and my response was basically "but the Lions shredded that D, and they were pretty basic" which was shot down a bit. That spurned another conversation about how the Pats target players smart enough to do what they need on D to enact these complex game plans, but sometimes at the expense of talent. His hypothesis is that we have passed on better players for system guys and that it may be treading water when dealing with the better offenses. Nothing many of us here didn't already know.

That said, it is games like this (and hopefully against guys like Flacco or Yates) where mediocre or young QBs can be tricked. Playing a Brees or Rodgers would theoretically yield problems (of course, against whom wouldn't it).
 
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