Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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New England at Denver 3:00 PM

San Francisco at Seattle 6:30 PM

Prediction: NE 27, DEN 41 (Line: DEN by 4.5)

Update: Both Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson are questionable to play. Both players were limited in practices all week and could end up game time decisions. Shane Vereen was limited in practices because of his groin but then had full days on Thursday and Friday and is good to go.

Here is the game that makes the NFL and announcers happy. Manning vs. Brady (though they are never on the field at the same time). No doubt a stack of graphics and stats awaits to rundown the 14 times these players have faced each other. What is a bit different is that Brady is the underdog and will be on the road. More germane to this game than career meetings of the quarterbacks is the 4-4 road record of the Patriots and the fact that they needed a huge comeback to beat them at home. This also feels different because at least the Patriots seem less likely to get into an aerial shootout this season.

The two teams met in week 12 when the Patriots won at home after a furious comeback by Tom Brady and company. A difference this time is that the Pats won't have their tight end Rob Gronkowski and the Broncos will have theirs in Julius Thomas.

Of course these two teams could play much differently than normal just for an edge. While less expected, there should be no shock if the Broncos end up mostly rushing and the Patriots throw the most.

1 @BUF 23-21 10 BYE WEEK
2 NYJ 13-10 11 @CAR 20-24
3 TB 23-3 12 DEN 34-31
4 @ATL 30-23 13 @HOU 34-31
5 @CIN 6-13 14 CLE 27-26
6 NO 30-27 15 @MIA 20-24
7 @NYJ 27-30 16 @BAL 41-7
8 MIA 27-17 17 BUF 34-20
9 PIT 55-31 19 IND 43-22
News | Statistics | Roster
Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady - - 300,2
RB Stevan Ridley 30 - -
RB Shane Vereen 10 6-70,1 -
RB LeGarrette Blount 70,1 - -
WR Danny Amendola - 5-70  
WR Julian Edelman - 7-110,1 -
PK S. Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Patriots fell behind 24-0 in the first half last time and yet pulled out a 34-31 win with a tremendous comeback coupled with an obvious collapse of the Denver defense. That game went off quite differently than recent weeks for the Pats.

Tom Brady threw for 344 yards and three scores but his last three games only totaled up two touchdowns overall and never broke 200 passing yards. All came after the loss of Gronkowski though the game in Miami produced 364 yards and two scores in week 15. Brady has not thrown much because the rushing effort has been so strong recently.

In the first meeting, Julian Edelman caught nine passes for 110 yards and two scores while Gronkowski ended with seven catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Even Shane Vereen brought in eight catches for 60 yards. Gronk is gone and Edelman remains the possession receiver but hasn't scored in three weeks and is playing that "Welker" role of plenty of catches for short yardage.

Vereen scored as a receiver in weeks 16 and 17 but has been held to minimal touches and yardage in those games. He's been a minor factor only since Gronk left though it would seem his role should be larger and not smaller. The success of Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount have overshadowed the entire offense recently though both came in home games against weaker defenses of the Bills and Colts.

Back in that first meeting, the Pats fell behind early and never had much chance to mount a rushing offense. Brandon Bolden was the primary runner with 13 carries for 58 yards and one score. Vereen ran 10 times for 31 yards but has been almost eliminated as a runner in recent weeks. Blount only too two rushing attempts and gained 13 yards.

Blount has really become the main threat in the offense since Gronkowski left. Over the last three games, he's scored a total of eight times and after running for 189 yards on the Bills, he plowed the Colts for 166 yards and scored four times in what became a laugher. The Pats ran so well that even Stevan Ridley was back to work late game and ended with two scores of his own.

The Broncos just lost CB Chris Harris to a torn ACL and that should help the pass effort for the Patriots at least a little.

While the Broncos have allowed nine rushing scores to visiting running backs, the yardage allowed has tended to be only moderate with just Ryan Matthews ever breaking 100 yards as a runner there (and that needed 29 carries). The Broncos already leaped out to a big lead once this year and are healthier in this meeting.

The expectation is that Brady will have to throw much more and better than recent weeks. No reason to expect Blount to take a major step backwards but he is on the road this time and is less likely to get as big a volume of carries. With no Gronk in this meeting, Edelman alone won't be enough and yet Kenbrell Thompkins may be out with a concussion and Danny Amendola has been little more than a bit player all year long. Vereen would seem to be a lock for increased playing time here but he has not been used much by the Pats recently. He's still a good risk given his role as a receiver and penchant for catching touchdowns since Gronk left.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 21 2 6 24 1 13
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 24 19 19 27 12 9


1 BAL 49-27 10 @SD 28-20
2 @NYG 41-23 11 KC 27-17
3 OAK 37-21 12 @NE 31-34
4 PHI 52-20 13 @KC 35-28
5 @DAL 51-48 14 TEN 51-28
6 JAC 35-19 15 SD 20-27
7 @IND 33-39 16 @HOU 37-13
8 WAS 45-21 17 @OAK 34-14
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning - - 310,3
RB Knowshon Moreno 80,1 1-10 -
RB Monte Ball 30 1-10 -
TE Julius Thomas - 4-70,1 -
WR Eric Decker - 2-40 -
WR Demaryius Thomas - 6-100,1 -
WR Wes Welker - 6-60,1 -
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 5 XP -

Pregame Notes: The script could not have been written better - or is it worse - for Peyton Manning after a record-setting season that embossed his name in ever more places in the NFL record book. He's already dispatched the pesky Chargers in the first game. Now he can rip off another monkey off his back if he can defeat Tom Brady's Patriots especially since he should have won big in New England but a defensive collapse let Brady once again show him up.

Then on to the Super Bowl where it can be hoisting another Lombardi trophy and a certain MVP performance followed by an Elway-esque "thank you, Elvis has left the building" as he rides off into the sunset and into yet another slew of commercials for 2014.

Or just lose to Brady yet again and be even more bitter than last year.

In the first meeting with the Patriots, Manning only passed for 150 yards and two scores with one interception. That in part came from Knowshon Moreno running 37 times for 224 yards and one touchdown plus Montee Ball turning in seven runs for 40 yards. The best receiver was Jacob Tamme (5-47, TD) because Julius Thomas was inactive. Demaryius Thomas was shadowed by Aqib Talib most of that game but ended with a touchdown on his four catches for 41 yards. Wes Welker only posted four receptions for 31 yards on his old team.

The Broncos leapt out to a big lead thanks to a defensive score and a couple of quick touchdowns. They tried to ride Moreno to the finish line but Brady caught up at the end.

The advantage goes more to the Broncos this time since they will have Julius Thomas back and the Pats are without Gronkowski. On the plus side, there will be no sitting on a lead in this game after the week 12 fiasco. The Pats are less formidable on the road anyway and Denver will look to pour on the points as quickly as they can. There is no way that Manning ends up with only 150 yards again short of injury. He should have that by halftime.

Talib has been able to shut down most of his opponents but he was not limited to only Demaryius Thomas last time. The Broncos are bringing a full crew this time with Demaryius, a healthier Welker, Decker and Julius Thomas. No doubt that the Pats would love to just run Blount again this week but he's not likely to be enough to win this game and it is to the advantage of the Broncos to get an early lead and push this one back to the air.

All the normal Broncos are worth starting in this though reason says that all of them cannot have a big game here. Thomas will draw Talib no doubt but probably not the entire game like last time and it is not like shutting him down stops the offense anyway. Welker goes against his old team again but he's not been used too much in recent weeks since his concussions starting happening and he's wearing a special helmet and fielding fewer passes. Decker only caught one pass in the last meeting and mostly has down games later in the year but could pop up with a monster game at any time.

This should be a higher scoring game thanks in no small part to the 34-31 loss in week 12 in New England. I like the chance for another defensive score as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 1 6 1 2 2 14
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 21 22 13 23 6 10


New England at Denver 3:00 PM

San Francisco at Seattle 6:30 PM

a d v e r t i s e m e n t