The New England Patriots haven't been to Mile High for a regular season game since 2011, and our Ultimate Fan(s) TheRealCubanB and broncofan91 believe their "Welcome Back" is going to come with a tough game, a huge defensive stop by the Broncos and a big ol' "L" for Bill Belichick's undefeated and defending world champs.
Sounds pretty awesome to me.
Denver vs. New England
MHR - Brock Osweiler got his first NFL start last week and did admirably, particularly protecting the ball. What did you like best about his game against Chicago?
TheRealCubanB: What I liked best about Brock's game against the Bears was his ability to play with such a natural flow - as if he'd been starting all season long. AND he didn't throw a single pick during the game.
broncofan91: I saw some very encouraging signs from Oz last week. For me the thing I liked the most was his composure. Before the game even started, he had every reason to completely implode. Filling in for a living legend and making the first start of his career in one of the most hostile stadiums in the league after a plane delay during a contract year did not seem to rattle him one bit. That composure carried over to the game, where despite being sacked five times, he always looked calm and in control. I'm not saying he is the second coming, but I like what I see so far.
MHR - Going up against the Patriots will be quite a bit different than the much-less sophisticated Chicago Bears. How should Oz and the offense prepare for Bill Belichick and the Patriots D this week?
TheRealCubanB: The offense should prepare for this game as they did for the game against Green Bay. The Broncos O-Line needs to stay as solid as the Great Wall of China - LOL.
broncofan91: The Patriots defense is whatever the hood makes them. Belichick is a master at exposing your weaknesses and taking away your strengths. He also specializes in picking apart inexperienced QBs. We need to be ready for anything he throws at us, so Brock needs to focus on his job and take full advantage of the knowledge around him. As for the offense, we need to find a way to make the run game work for us to have a chance. I would also spend some extra time working on our short yardage runs. Passing wise, I would love to see us be a bit more aggressive stretching the field, especially with our TEs.
MHR - The Broncos' running game looked like an actual NFL rushing attack last week with two RBs getting great yardage. Should/can we expect that again this week?
TheRealCubanB: We can expect both the running & passing game to be stellar!
broncofan91: I firmly believe our success in the run game last week came from finally being able to run Kubiak's traditional offense with Oz, so it is possible to have a repeat performance this week. However, the Patriots have the best run defense in the league, so while I do think we will continue to see an improved run game, I would not expect crazy numbers.
MHR - We've been used to seeing Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders lighting it up with catches, but last week the top two "receivers" were Owen Daniels and Vernon Davis. Do you expect more big production from our tight ends this week?
TheRealCubanB: Denver should really start using our tight ends more, both Owen Daniels and Vernon Davis are magnificent athletes.
broncofan91: Most definitely! My dad taught from an early age that the best weapon you can give to a young QB is a good tight end. One of my biggest disappointments this season has been the lack of production from the tight end position, so I was very happy to see Brock connect with them last week. I fully expect that to continue this week as Vernon Davis gets more comfortable in this offense.
MHR - Despite Osweiler's effectiveness last week, he still got sacked five times. Is our offensive line capable of being a solid unit this year or are our QBs just going to have to get used to running away?
TheRealCubanB: Our O-Line definitely has the ability to hold it down as we've seen in earlier games this season. Also, see question No. 2 :)
broncofan91: At this point of the season I'd say I have seen enough to know they are capable of being just good enough to win games. Whether they can do it on a consistent basis is a different question. They have a tough game this week against guys like Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower, so we're going to get a good idea of they perform in big games. It's important to remember that not all sacks are the O-line's fault. As Oz gets more experience, he'll start getting rid of the ball faster and also learn when to throw it away. That should greatly reduce the amount of sacks he takes.
MHR - If you're Kubiak, what are you telling No. 17 this week about facing the trickiest team in the league - who happens to also be the defending World Champs with the best QB in the NFL?
TheRealCubanB: As Kubiak I'd tell Oz, "Make sure the ball is inflated every time we get it back from New England. Stay sharp and & let's get the W!!"
broncofan91: The first thing I would tell him is to be patient. He had an easy time moving the ball against the Bears, but he can't expect to have the same success against the Pats. He needs to keep his cool and not try to force things until he has to.
MHR - What offensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
TheRealCubanB: ZERO sacks allowed would be amazing!! I know the O-Line is capable of this and now more than ever would be a great time to make it happen against the P*triots.
broncofan91: The easy answer would be no turnovers, but for me the most important stat will be our third-down efficiency because to win this game we need to keep our defense fresh.
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos offense this Sunday?
TheRealCubanB: Emmanuel Sanders would be able to get thru the NE secondary as long as he's able to play this Sunday.
broncofan91: I think Vernon Davis is gonna bust out this week and come up big on third down.
MHR - The Patriots offense has lost several weapons, its O-line isn't in that much better shape than the Broncos and they are playing at Mile High against the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Will the Broncos take care of Belichick's pretty boy, contain Gronk and snap the Pats undefeated season?
TheRealCubanB: LMAO @ "the pretty boy." This will be the game that'll hit the Patriots like a RIOT!
broncofan91: This defense is built to stop offenses like this, but it is still Brady, so we will need to play our best to do it.
MHR - What is more important in this game - the Broncos offense scoring a lot of points or the Broncos defense manhandling Brady and the offense - to get this win?
TheRealCubanB: Both are key factors in getting the W, and the Broncos can make it happen.
broncofan91: The Bills manhandled Brady and lost because they couldn't score, so as much as I love this defense, we need points.
MHR - Watching the Patriots-Bills game, the Patriots are definitely vulnerable. What lessons should the Broncos take from that game?
TheRealCubanB: A good lesson from Monday night's game is that with enough pressure and persistence we can get through the Patriots' offensive line.
broncofan91: The biggest lesson they should learn is to finish. The Bills had plenty of chances to win that game but they didn't have the talent to finish.
MHR - What defensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
TheRealCubanB: At least three sacks and two picks. This would show why the Broncos have the No.1 defense in the league.
broncofan91: We must pressure Brady to stop his offense, so quarterback hits are crucial.
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos defense this Sunday?
TheRealCubanB: Demarcus Ware can be a HUGE factor in this game with his ability to make key defensive stops. Hopefully he'll be healthy enough to play. (*editor's note: Ware was ruled "out" on Friday).
broncofan91: I think T.J. Ward will step up on defense. His toughness will fire up a fierce pass rush.
MHR - So far this season the Broncos have been on the losing end of the penalty battle, and the officiating overall this year has many critics. If you were grading the refs in Broncos games through the first half of the season, what grade do you give them? Across the NFL?
TheRealCubanB: On the Broncos games I'd grade them a C and across the NFL a B-.
broncofan91: Across the NFL, I'd give them a C-. Against us, an EF (EPIC FAIL).
MHR - Aside from a lot of "no calls" for teams playing the Broncos and some terrible calls on the Broncos, the defense in particular has not been squeaky clean when it comes to "dirty penalties." Does that bother you? Are the Broncos "marked" now by the refs?
TheRealCubanB: I don't like the last couple of incidents that have occurred out of aggression. Any professional athlete should do his/her best to refrain from such similar actions. I don't believe the Broncos are "marked" as long as they behave some.
broncofan91: I must admit at times I do feel embarrassed watching those plays. You can be aggressive without being stupid, and the refs definitely pay attention to that stuff.
Favorite Broncos loss?
broncofan91: The loss to the Patriots in the 2011 playoffs hurt the least
Favorite Broncos win?
broncofan91: 2011 Wild card round
Team you hate to lose to the most?
Team you love to beat?
TheRealCubanB: Kansas City Chiefs
Game most looking forward to this season?
TheRealCubanB: This season, its week 13 against the SD Chargers since I'll be attending it.
broncofan91: This one.
Game most worried about this season?
TheRealCubanB: Already played it - Week 2 against the Chiefs
broncofan91: This one.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster?
TheRealCubanB: Owen Daniels. He has a lot of potential and being a part of the Broncos squad will give him the opportunity to develop even more.
broncofan91: Von Miller because he's hilarious.
Favorite Broncos player of all time?
broncofan91: Rod Smith because I like underdogs
Superstitions on game day?
TheRealCubanB: Out of all the Broncos hats I own, I always have to wear the same grey & orange one on game day.
broncofan91: Never lose.
Favorite Broncos jersey color combo?
TheRealCubanB: Both the white/ navy & also the navy/ orange jerseys.
broncofan91: Home (orange)
How did you become Broncos fans?
TheRealCubanB: I grew up an NFL orphan in Los Angeles with both the Rams & Raiders gone. I developed a passion for football in high school while playing Tight End for our school team. It was during that time that I began doing research on NFL teams and finally deciding with the Broncos!
broncofan91: I was born a Broncos fan thanks to my dad.