From now until the end of the NFL season, the Friday plan will be to post the NFL Alphabet Preview sometime between 12-1 p.m., and then have one more post where I pick the Pats game against the spread. I'm not sure why I felt the need to share that, but now we're all on the same page.
Anyway, the Pats are favored by 6.5 points on Sunday.
Early weather reports predict a 40 percent chance of rain, with northeast winds between 9-14 MPH and a game time temperature of 55 degrees. Also, I think the Patriots are going to cover.
For me, it comes down to two things. Both are obvious, but that doesn't make them any less important.
1. Protect Tom Brady: Protect him from Von Miller. Protect him from Elvis Dumervill. Protect him for Joe "The Ear Monger" Mays. Denver's only registered 10 sacks on the season, which places in the middle of the NFL pack, but when they get there, they make it count.
2. Get to Peyton Manning: You don't have to sack him. In fact, it might be better just to spook him, let him hear and feel the footsteps, start having flashbacks to past Gillette Stadium failures . . . and then do something stupid.
Stupid isn't a word you typically associated with Manning, one of the smartest QBs of all-time, but right now, this isn't the same Peyton Manning that we saw for all those years. He still might be better than 85 percent of quarterbacks out there, but until he gets his sea legs (and sea neck?) under him, he's susceptible to panic, and then stupidity. The guy's only human.
But if he has time, he'll pick the Pats apart. As i wrote earlier this week, and as you probably already know, Denver has two big, strong and athletic receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas that are built to have their way with a secondary like New England's.
Still, I'm counting on panicked Peyton. Why? Because Bill Belichick had this guy's number when he was on top of the world. He consistently beat Peyton Manning at All-Madden level; he'll find a way to get it done at All-Pro. Look for a couple of Manning interceptions to turn the game, and a late Brandon Bolden touchdown run to seal it.
Final Score: Pats 31, Broncos 20