The New England Patriots are a very diverse offensive team. They run four different running backs ranging from 205-250 pounds, they have perhaps the best tight end in football, and, of course, a Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady. The question is, can the Patriots’ unproven wide receivers be productive enough this weekend to beat the high-scoring Denver Broncos?
Not only does the Broncos’ offense compile 39.2 points per game, but the Bronco’s defense also ranks third in the league in interceptions, and the Patriots’ top three wide receivers all rank in the top 10 in drops. An aggressive and experienced Broncos’ secondary will have clear opportunities to make plays against these relatively green receivers, as Brady will inevitably be forced to throw down field in order to keep up with Peyton Manning and his high powered offense.
With such unproven receivers this year, Brady has often relied on short routes underneath the coverage, screen passes, and other easy completions to move the ball. However, in order to win this weekend, he will have to take chances with his young receivers and test the Broncos’ secondary, which will likely lead to turnovers. The Broncos’ talented and deep secondary play against the best wide receiving corps in the NFL and their own HOF quarterback each week in practice. As a result, they can comfortably match up in single coverage against these young receivers on the outside and allow the defensive players in the box to focus on pressuring Brady, stopping the run, and containing Rob Gronkowski.
Despite the teams 7-3 record, Brady is on pace for career lows as a starter in completion percentage, yards per completion, and touchdowns, as well as a career high in sacks. In short, Brady’s receivers have struggled to get open, dropped passes when they do, and, as a result, Brady clearly does not trust his receivers, struggles to get the ball out on time, and more often checks down to the run.
If the Broncos can get up early and force Brady to go down field, this marquee matchup will ultimately be a rare back-to-back loss for the Pats, and possibly even a blow out.
Written by John Spina. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @jsspina24.