the Denver Broncos
At first glance, this line probably seems high to most
people. After all, the Patriots aren’t home underdogs very often; just four
times since 2005. We saw New England
annihilate Cincinnati as a national TV home dog less than a month ago. And the Pats are 41-21 ATS as a dog in the
Belichick era, cashing at a 66% clip long term in this very role.
But before we get carried away with the Pats current four
game winning streak, lets not forget that New England has largely been feasting
on bottom feeders. Their six victories
this season have come against Minnesota, Oakland, Cinci (in a miserable spot
for the Bengals), Buffalo, the Jets and Chicago (on a day where Jay Cutler was
misfiring). That’s not exactly a who’s
who of Super Bowl contenders, to put it mildly.
Yet despite facing teams with a combined winning percentage
of just .433 (not counting their games against the Pats), New England’s
statistical profile is mediocre at best.
The Patriots have outgained their foes by only 0.2 yards per play, right
in the same range as teams like New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia –
above average squads, but certainly not elite teams.
New England has also suffered a handful of crucial,
impactful defensive injuries in recent weeks.
They’ve lost their defensive quarterback (LB Jerod Mayo) and their best
pass rusher (DE Chandler Jones) to long term injuries. Those injuries didn’t matter last week, in a
game where Jay Cutler struggled once again, but they are likely to matter in a
matchup against Peyton Manning.
My power ratings have the Broncos more than a field goal
better than the 2nd best team in the NFL, by far the most impressive
team in the league thusfar this season.
Unlike the Patriots, Denver is battle tested, having squared off against
the likes of the Colts, Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers and Chargers already this
year. They’ve faced opponents with a
combined .622 winning percentage in all games not against the Broncos. Only the 49ers have faced a tougher slate
And Denver has essentially dominated that elite competition. They have outgained their foes by a whopping
1.5 yards per play, by far the best in the NFL.
Denver’s offense is every bit as good as it was last year. Defensively, the additions of DeMarcus Ware
and Aqib Talib have had an immediate impact, as has the return to health of Von
Miller, leading to a 23-8 sack ratio between what their defense has created vs.
what their offense has allowed. Denver
is the ‘class’ in this matchup, and I expect that to show on Sunday. Take