Denver Broncos: Five Key Players Versus New England
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady
When the Denver Broncos play the New England Patriots on Sunday, the game will feature two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning renew their longtime rivalry with a bit of a twist; Manning is on a different team. When he signed with the Broncos last spring, a lot of things changed for Manning but the rivalry with Brady is still there.
Football fans should enjoy the game on Sunday and savior it, because no one knows how many more times we get to watch these two go at it. With all due respect to other quarterback rivalries, the Brady vs. Manning on has to be the best. For one thing, they have played almost every season despite being in different divisions. Not only have they played a lot over the years, they are always big games. For most of the past decade, it seemed as if the winner of the AFC Championship was whichever team won between the Patriots and Colts in January. Brady had the edge early, winning almost every game versus Manning on his way to three Super Bowl Titles. Manning bounced back later in the decade, beating Brady and the Patriots on his way to his Super Bowl Title.
The quarterbacks will grab all of the headlines going into the game but for the Broncos to beat the Patriots there are five Broncos not named Manning that must play well. Manning will play well but he needs these players to come up big.
Ok, this is technically two players but Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker must make plays when they have the opportunity. The Patriots have struggled in pass coverage and there a big plays to be made. Both Thomas and Decker have had drops this season and that cannot happen on Sunday. The game with the Patriots is a chance for the two Broncos’ receivers to make a name for themselves around the league.
Once again, the offensive line is five players but they all work as one. Everyone saw in the Broncos win over the Oakland Raiders last week that if Manning gets time, he’s going to pick apart defenses. The Patriots have struggled to get to the quarterback and if the offensive line for the Broncos can protect Manning, then the Broncos will put up points.
Doom and Vroom
Stop me if you have heard this before, but this is a game where Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller have to be big. No defense is going to stop Brady and the Patriots without a pass rush. If the Broncos defense is going to have any success on Sunday, then Brady must be under pressure all day and that starts with Dumervil and Miller.
The guy with the toughest job of the day for the Broncos is probably Chris Harris. The second year cornerback for the Broncos is going to be asked to cover the star tight end for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski. As with the Patriots offense, Harris is not going to shut Gronkowski down completely but if he can limit the big plays then that will be considered a win for the Broncos.
The best one on one matchup to watch is probably Champ Bailey vs. Brandon Lloyd. The Broncos cornerback will be facing his former teammate in Lloyd and if Bailey can win that matchup, then the Broncos can be more aggressive with the rest of their defense. That would allow the Broncos to double cover somewhere else or to be more creative with their blitz package.
For the Denver Broncos to beat the New England Patriots, everyone has to play their best game of the season. These are 5+ players who must play well, but they are certainly not the only ones. It’s Brady vs. Manning; enjoy it because in a few years the rivalry will be gone.