Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

Prediction: DEN 23, NE 31 (Line: NE by 7)

Players to Watch: Willis McGahee

Player Updated: Rob Gronkowski

This is like hearing your favorite song played by the wrong band.

The old Brady vs. Manning takes on an entirely new look. The 2-2 Broncos head to New England to face the 2-2 Patriots. Both are disappointed with their current standing though more so for the Pats who naturally assume to dominate the AFC East.The Patriots beat the Broncos twice last year, winning 41-23 at home in week 15 and then 45-10 in New England during the playoffs. But this game has a completely different slant on it with Peyton Manning on the Broncos.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD -----
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC -----
4 OAK 37-6 13 TB -----
5 @NE ----- 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD ----- 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO ----- 17 KC -----
9 @CIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 300,2
RB Ronnie Hillman 10 2-10
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2-30
WR Demaryius Thomas 6-80,1
WR Wes Welker 7-90
TE Jacob Tamme 4-40,1

Pregame Notes: If Manning does nothing else, at last he stomped on the Raiders in Denver and that alone justified his salary. Now comes a rough part of the schedule with two road games in New England and San Diego after the Broncos are only 0-1 away from Denver. Manning is getting more productive lately but then again he is generating more game tape on what Manning in Denver is all about. So far he has scored in every week and currently has eight touchdowns against three interceptions. All of those picks were in the one road game.

The rushing effort has been solid with Willis McGahee who fell short only against the Texans because they gave him just 12 carries. He gained over 100 yards and scored on both the Falcons and the Raiders. Notable too were the six catches he made last Sunday. McGahee can help maintain good fantasy numbers with that sort of reception work but it was only one game. Over his first three match-ups, McGahee only totaled three receptions for 17 yards. His stock goes up a tick with another game of being used out of the backfield.

Manning is making good use of his two main wideouts. Demaryius Thomas has just one off game but otherwise has been good for 100 yards and/or a touchdown. Thomas account4ed for eight receptions for 78 yards and one score in the only other road game. Eric Decker remains the possession play and he finally scored when the Raiders visited last week. Decker too has been a solid play with at least 50 yards per week. Impressive too was when the Broncos faced the Texans and Decker came through with eight receptions for 136 yards. Brandon Stokley tosses in two or three catches per week but is a fantasy nonfactor.

Jacob Tamme is the preferred tight end and gets the most targets and catches but the last two weeks have seen Joel Dreessen catch a score. That's mostly just Manning hitting the open guy.

This is only the second road game for the PMannings and the first one did not go so well. But Atlanta has a much better defense than the Patriots. Then again - the Pats are at home after their loss to the Cardinals in the only other game there. The Manning angle has to play at least a minor role here. Mostly - both teams are 2-2 and not liking it.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 13 11 7 11 16 20
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 26 17 21 30 8 2

QB Peyton Manning, DEN @NE 0000031030 ***
Think Bill Belichick has Peyton's number? Think again; Manning has multiple TD tosses in five straight regular-season meetings with the Patriots dating back to the 2008 season. He's topped 300 yards in three of those five as well. This iteration of the New England defense has surrendered multiple scoring strikes in four of five; this iteration of Peyton has at least three TDs in four straight and six of seven. Fantasy owners needn't concern themselves with the war; Peyton consistently wins this battle.
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN @NE 9003201000 ***
Focus too much on Peyton Manning and Hillman will get ya; he's racked up triple-digit combo yardage in all three starts since Montee Ball went down. The Patriots have allowed three 100-yard rushers in the past four games as well as a couple of 50-plus yard receiving games to backs; if they devote too much game plan to Manning, Hillman's fantasy prospects climb from good to very good.
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN @NE 201000000 **
Thompson looks to be taking over as the goal line complement to Ronnie Hillman--and a a Patriots D that's allowed five RB TDs in the past four games might be susceptible to a goal line back.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @NE 0061001000 ***
The Patriots have to hope adding Darrelle Revis to the roster slows Thomas, because nothing else they've tried to date has; in four career meetings he's averaging almost seven catches for almost 110 yards, though he's scored just once in the four games. He brings a four-game streak of 100-yard efforts into this tilt, and you have to like his chances of exiting with at least a fantasy helper if not a fifth straight above the century mark.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @NE 004500000 ***
Not only have the Patriots allowed multiple WRs to score in two of their last four games, they never had an answer for Sanders when he played for Pittsburgh; in three games he racked up 16-209-1. With four TDs in the past two games he's beyond his scoring slump, and odds are he won't see Darrelle Revis so the run of success should continue.
WR Wes Welker, DEN @NE 004400000 ***
Welker has never caught a TD pass against his former mates--not as a Dolphin before joining the Patriots, nor in his lone meeting with them as a Bronco. He's also slid down the passing game pecking order in Denver, to the point that he's a reach of a fantasy play even in a six-team bye week.
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @NE 004601000 ****
After a scorching start Thomas has been kept in check the past two weeks. Don't expect that to continue against a New England defense that's allowed three 90-yard games to TEs and three TE TDs in the past five games.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN @NE 1144 *****
Kicking behind a Peyton Manning offense has its advantages: four or more PATs in all but one game this year. It also has its disadvantages: only one game with multiple field goal attempts. You'll get solid, but spectacular doesn't appear to be in the offing.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF -----
2 ARI 18-20 11 IND -----
3 @BAL 30-31 12 @NYJ -----
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA -----
5 DEN ----- 14 HOU -----
6 @SEA ----- 15 SF -----
7 NYJ ----- 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL ----- 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 300,3
RB Brandon Bolden 20
RB Stevan Ridley 60,1 2-10
WR Danny Amendola 6-80,1
WR Brandon LaFell 3-40
TE Rob Gronkowski 8-80,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots come off a thrashing of the Bills after losing two games and falling to 1-2. The only problem with believing in that is that the Pats beat the Bills. That is like going down the street and beating up your younger cousin for the 20th time. Yeah, what does that prove? The Pats lost in Baltimore by one point and were held off at home by the Cards. That has to motivate the Patriots but a fair question is "how did that happen in the first place?" Sure, the loss in Baltimore was on the road and against a good team. But at home against the Cardinals. The Pats need to win big here if only to make themselves feel better.

Brady is still cranking out the 300 yard games but was light on touchdowns until posting three passing scores and one rushing touchdown on the Bills last week. That gives Brady eight scores against only one interception this year.He only threw one score against the Ravens and Cardinals but those are very good defenses. All is well in the house of Brady and his fantasy owners can come back in off the ledge.

Brady passed for an insane 363 yards and six touchdowns in the playoff meeting between these teams. He threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns in the home meeting with the Broncos during week 15.

The pasting of the Bills included a second big game for Stevan Ridley (22-106, 2 TDs) and also for the rookie Brandon Bolden (16-137, TD). Bolden did have the bulk of his production later in the game including the fourth-quarter touchdown but was given four runs in the first half when it was still very much an even game. Danny Woodhead had no carries in that game and may be replaced now by Bolden as the relief runner but still figures in as a receiver. With the Pats, you know when you know. Otherwise you are just guessing.

Aside from the Ravens game, Rob Gronkowski is just as deadly with a score in three games and over 60 yards in each of those. Aaron Hernandez remains out with his ankle injury but may practice this week and possibly play in week six. The Kellen Winslow experiment only lasted for one catch before he was released.

Brandon Lloyd produced 108 yards on nine catches in the Ravens tilt but then has been right at 60 yards in every other game and has just one touchdown on the year and that came in the point fest at Buffalo. Wes Welker seemed almost phased out of the offense early on in the year but has roared back with 17 catches for 271 yards in just the last two weeks. The offense is hitting top speed again and that is without Hernandez who will rejoin the starters as early as next week.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 7 7 12 1 2 8
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 18 12 18 22 12 12

QB Tom Brady, NE DEN 0000028030 ****
Roughly half the quarterbacks who attempt to shoot it out with Peyton Manning put up helpful fantasy numbers, and Brady will definitely be in that upper half. He' rolls in with four straight multiple TD games, including 12 in his last three, while averaging 317 yards per game in that span. He threw for 344 and 3 in last year's meeting and won't take a back seat to Peyton in this tilt, fantasy or otherwise.
RB Shane Vereen, NE DEN 3005601000 ****
Vereen caught eight balls for 60 yards in last year's meeting with the Broncos; this year's iteration has already allowed 5-70 and 4-112 receiving games to opposing backs. Projecting what Bill Belichick does with his backs on a weekly basis is always a sticky wicket, but this one has all the markings of a monster PPR outing for Vereen.
RB Jonas Gray, NE DEN 300000000 ***
Backs have done virtually nothing against Denver over the past three games, and while Gray has become the team's go-to back for now this one likely shakes out as more of a Shane Vereen production.
WR Brandon LaFell, NE DEN 006801000 ****
The Broncos haven't given up a 100-yard game to an opposing receiver' it's taken high volume just to squeeze out a decent yardage game against them. LaFell saw that volume last week, but he could easily fall behind Gronk, Vereen, and Edelman in the pecking order this week so it's tough to bank on him here--especially if he draws Aqib Talib.
WR Julian Edelman, NE DEN 002300000 ***
Edelman took a back seat to Brandon LaFell last week, but he was Tom Brady's go-to guy when the Pats beat Denver last year so don't be surprised if he returns to his high-volume role this week.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE DEN 008901000 ****
The Broncos didn't have an answer for Gronk last year as he rolled them for 7-90-1. They didn't have an answer for Antonio Gates (5-54-2) last week, and they haven't had much of an answer for any competent tight end this year in giving up four 50-yard games and four TE TDs. Gronk comes off a three-TD, 9-149 monster and there's little preventing him from a repeat.
TE Timothy Wright, NE DEN 002300000 ***
Wright has had success with Gronk's leftovers with touchdowns in three of the last four games, and he may fall into that situation again this week. At minimum he's worthy of consideration in a week with six teams on the bye.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE DEN 2233 ***
It's an immovable force--the Broncos have yet to allow a kicker to top eight points--against an irresistible object--Gostkowski has multiple field goals in seven of eight outings this year. Sounds like a solid kicker showing but nothing to write home about.

BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

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