FOXBORO -- New England's defense faces its toughest task yet in facing Denver on Sunday. Peyton Manning will roll into Foxboro with the league's best offensive attack, scorching opponents with nearly 40 points per game.
"He's just cerebral," said cornerback Kyle Arrington. "He's one of those cerebral guys who's just so smart, and he makes adjustments well. Especially coming off somewhat of a short week, we've definitely had to spend as much time, whether in the office at home as well, just trying to catch up as much as we can."
Coach Bill Belichick noted Friday how important it is to disguise defenses against a quarterback of Manning's caliber. Though it's so far looked impossible to shut down the Broncos' passing attack, New England can try and disrupt the timing and rhythm of it by playing multiple schemes.
"The least we can do is make him work for it," Arrington laughed ruefully. "We don't want to just give it all away pre-snap. We'll do the best we can on that."
Chandler Jones is focused on pressure. The defensive end leads the Patriots in sacks (9.5) and quarterback hits (17), and is hungry to add to both tallies. In that respect, he's certainly not masking his intentions.
"With a quarterback like Peyton Manning, if you let him sit back there and pick your defense apart, he could," Jones declared.
"You've just got to go. As far as the defensive line [is concerned], you've just got to pin your ears back and go, get pressure on him. A player like that, you don't want him just sitting back there with no pressure. No masking; just going. Just go."
Easier said than done. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Patriots 'D' has allowed opposing quarterbacks 3.85 seconds to pass on average. That number is second-highest in the NFL. And Manning? He throws, on average, after just 2.83 seconds. He has a 21-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio when passing two seconds or less after the snap.
Jones knows what he's up against. Every Patriots defender knows. The trick is to not blink.
"When you get your shots on him, you've got to take them. That's the biggest thing."