Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) October 29, 2014
Wow, this is a crazy one. Let's get straight to it, position by position, shall we?
Quarterback: Peyton Manning. Come on, did you really expect any controversy from me here? Manning is the reigning MVP and the current favorite to win the award for a record sixth time. Let's remind ourselves that MVP stands for "Most Valuable Player" in the NFL, meaning you could put Manning up against any player in the NFL at any position right now, and the other guy would get the bench. Go cool off, Tom Brady. You can be backup, and if you don't suck by the time Manning retires, you can take over.
As to Faulk's follow-up question about possibly lining up both Tom and Peyton together - I don't see it happening. The potential wrinkles in the offense that could create don't add more offensive production than Manning working with a host of weapons. Let's keep the traditional one-quarterback offense.
The only way I'm lining up Tom Brady with Peyton Manning is if Tom's running a shallow crossing route over the middle... just because it would be fun to see him get crushed.
Tight end: Julius Thomas and Rob Gronkowski. At first I thought this was going to be the toughest decision to make across the entire exercise - Rob Gronowski or Julius Thomas? Then a follower on Twitter reminded me I could just keep both and run a lot of 12 personnel (two tight ends with one running back). Sounds good! Sounds really, unstoppably good.
Running back: Ronnie Hillman. No running back option jumps out at me, and Hillman has the best production of late between the two teams. Hope he's healthy.
Wide receivers: Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. It's not close.
Offensive line (left to right): Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez, and Sebastian Vollmer. The Patriots' offensive line has been suspect; only their right tackle is clearly better than the Broncos' options by experience and PFF grade, and I'll keep the rest of my offensive line intact knowing the importance of chemistry in the trenches.
Defensive end: DeMarcus Ware and Derek Wolfe. Expect a healthy rotation here, of course, but these two get the start thanks to Ware's furious pass rush and Wolfe's excellent run-stopping ability.
Defensive tackle: Terrance Knighton and Vince Wilfork. Big boys. There's a "Will fork Pot Roast" joke in there somewhere.
Linebackers: Von Miller, Dont'a Hightower, and Brandon Marshall. My mouth is watering at this lineup (or maybe it's the pot roast), although Danny Trevathan would be an upgrade over Marshall if healthy.
Cornerbacks: Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib. That's right. I would not take Darrelle Revis. Just look at the passer ratings he's allowing to enemy quarterbacks in every game but two. He's so up and down it's maddening.
Meanwhile, Talib has only allowed quarterbacks a rating over 100 twice this season, and he's registered more passes defensed too. Meanwhile, as Broncos fans know, Harris is the NFL's best cornerback in the NFL in 2014 so far.
Sorry Revis. Wanna play nickel?
Safeties: Devin McCourty and T.J. Ward. Ward's an All Pro from a year ago waiting his big game; McCourty is a bit more solid than the Broncos' up-and-down Rahim Moore.
The final tally
17 Broncos, 5 Patriots. As a way to assess my own bias, I'll be interested to see if Pats Pulpits' merged roster skews more toward New England. I suspect it will.