Peyton Manning did his best in week four to silence those who had been saying that his arm strength was shot and that he wasn’t 100 percent. Manning is fine, and his 338 yards and three touchdowns in week four should have been enough to prove that. Perhaps it was, though a win against the New England Patriots this weekend would give Manning and the Denver Broncos a more heavily weighted amount of NFL street cred.
While this game will ultimately be sold as a much great challenge for the Broncos, the difficulty for them doesn’t reside in Manning’s ability to throw, but rather their defense’s ability to stop Tom Brady. The truth is that statistically, the Patriots are only a marginally better team when it comes to defending the pass. In fact, the Patriots and Oakland Raiders are ranked 25th and 26th respectively in pass defense at this point in the season. The Raiders are giving up an average of 283 passing yard per game, while the Patriots concede 281.5. That’s not a huge difference, and as the Patriots proved last weekend, they’re still a team that relies on their ability to put up big points and simply outgun their opponents.
Hence one could conclude that Manning will enjoy similar success against the Patriots passing defense. Last week Ryan Fitzpatrick amassed 350 yards and four touchdowns. The only problem for Fitzpatrick was that he also added four picks, due in part to playing from so far behind during most of the fourth quarter.
It’s reasonable to suspect that Manning will put up big numbers against New England’s secondary, and if he can avoid the mistakes that Fitzpatrick made, he might give the Broncos a chance to keep Brady under wraps. This weekend is actually a great chance for Manning to put his critics to rest, and at the same time establish some rhythm and consistency beyond a one-week performance. If he does that, it’ll be on the Denver defense to keep Brady under the 50 point mark.