Curran's Keys: Taking down the Broncos

Curran's Keys: Taking down the Broncos
November 23, 2013, 11:00 pm
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When Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet, you can bet the scoreboard operator is going to be busy. 

But this game goes beyond legacies and offensive prowess. 

"Sunday's matchup between the Broncos and Patriots isn't just about proving which quarterback is better, it has significant impact on playoff seedings," says Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran. 

If the Patriots lose to Denver, it will drop New England into a tie with the Bengals, who already beat the Patriots earlier this year. That would put New England in the 4-seed, and would have them lined up to play Kansas City or Denver in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. That's a road the Patriots would rather avoid. 

So how do they do it?

Curran offers three ways to take down the Broncos and keep New England on better footing for the playoff hunt. 

1 - Disguise, disguise, disguise

"Peyton Manning, if he knows what you're in, will devour your defense," says Curran.

The Patriots will need to disguise their pre-snap coverage, but will need to do so carefully. If they try to confuse Manning and he snaps the ball while they're disguising, the Pats will be caught out of position and that's just as unfavorable a scenario. 

New England needs to do just enough to make Manning re-think where he wants to go with the ball, and when he does make a decision, the Patriots need to execute their 1-on-1 matchups. 

2 - Contain Julius Thomas 

With all of their injuries, the Patriots don't have the linebackers or secondary to cover Thomas. 
 
"If they can somehow limit throws to Julius Thomas, they'll be a heck of a lot better off," says Curran.
 
Easier said than done.
 
3 - Convert on third down
 
"If the Patriots are under 40% conversion on third down, they lose," says Curran.
 
If the Patriots aren't on the field, it means Manning is, and he most certainly will convert his opportunities. 
 
Final Score - Broncos 31, Patriots 28