Before Peyton Manning’s most recent injury, Sunday Night Football’s match up between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos looked like it could be a Super Bowl 50 preview. Now that both teams are experiencing a number of injuries to key players, it might not be the battle royale we once anticipated. Without Manning, the point spread has the Broncos as +2.5 underdogs at home against the undefeated Patriots.
Sunday Night Football:New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos
Point Spread: Patriots -2.5 Over/under: 44 Date: Sunday, November 29, 8:30pm ET Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
New England Patriots
With notable injuries across the board on the offense, including receiver Julian Edelman, running back Dion Lewis and tackle Nate Solder, the Patriots are still finding ways to win. With yet another injury to Danny Amendola, it might start to get trickier against Denver’s no. 1 ranked defense. Having Tom Brady at quarterback is a clear advantage, but against the best pass defense in the league and a depleted receiving group, all focus will be on LaGarrette Blount to have a big game.
New England’s defense has typically been one to bend but not break, giving up ample yardage but holding teams to a league best 18 points per game. That kind of stinginess will bode well for the Patriots who will face Brock Osweiler in only his second NFL start. Without a true threat at quarterback, the -2.5 favored Patriots can focus on stopping running backs Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, who combined for a 161 yards rushing last week.
The defense has been carrying the offense for much of the season, but without Manning, their job is only going to get harder. It’s unclear if DeMarcus Ware will play this week after sitting out against Chicago. With Ware, the Broncos defense is the most effective pass rush in the league, backed by an incredible secondary. Without the push up front, it will give Brady time to pick apart the Broncos defenders. If Ware can’t go, it’ll be up to Von Miller to get to the quarterback.
Osweiler did enough to get the win against the Bears, but the Patriots are of a different echelon. The Broncos offense can expect a few growing pains this week as he may not be able to rely on a strong game from his running backs. New England is ranked second in the league allowing just 88 yards per game on the ground. Denver is likely to use their big tight ends Vernon Davis and Demaryius Thomas to create favorable match ups against the Patriots smaller defensive backs.
Sunday Night Football Prediction
Even if Manning were healthy for this game, I’m not sure he’s at a point in his career where he could go head-to-head against Brady. The Patriots seem to have the perfect scheme and perfect play for every scenario, which spells doom for a Denver team lead by a quarterback making only his second NFL start. Osweiler is simply going to be out of his league and it’s going to sink the Broncos.
Check out the rest of our best picks against the spread in Week 12 NFL action!