I only know one Patriots fan, and though normally this would prevent any sort of friendly association, I make an exception in his case because he makes me laugh. Also, he likes Peyton Manning's chicken parm line in the Nationwide jingle, so he has redeeming qualities! But today - at his request - he is our "enemy fan" for a special edition of the Ultimate Fan Guide. Please be respectful to him in the comments (he comes in peace...mostly), but feel free to let him know exactly why Brock Osweiler and the Broncos defense can take care of Tom Brady and the Cheatriots...oh, I'm sorry...the P*triots....good grief, I meant the Patriots (really :) )
Denver Broncos v. defending World Champs
MHR - How scared are you of your team coming in to Mile High - a place where the Broncos own the series at 19-8?
Mike G.: I am, by nature, a pessimist with respect to the Pats. Having grown up in the 60s and 70s with THOSE Patriots (and Red Sox) I always see the glass as half empty. That said, I am cautiously optimistic that God's Team (America's team apparently residing in Dallas) will be competitive on Sunday night.
MHR - If you're Belichick this week - and surveillance cameras in the Denver locker room are unavailable - how do you game plan for the league's No. 1 offense against its No. 1 defense?
Mike G.: Try to resurrect our moribund running game and/or find out who is the healthiest receiver and feed him. I think with your pass rush and our OL injuries you'll see Gronk in for blocking with a 3-TE set and maybe take advantage of Chandler's size. Of course I've been saying this to anyone who will listen for three weeks, and I guess His Hoodiness isn't listening.
MHR - Your offensive line was downright terrible last week and Tom Brady gave them a "little speech" on the sideline. Can we expect a significantly tougher O-Line from the Patriots this week?
Mike G.: Hell, we had a FA center starting all season and last year's rookie center (Stork) playing guard AND tackle when he got off the PUP list. They are a tough bunch. But I think TB12 will be looking at the Denver night sky from his back more often than any of New England wants.
MHR - The biggest storyline of this game the past three seasons has always been Tom Brady v. Peyton Manning - a matchup that's been heavily lopsided in Brady's favor. Does this game lose any drama without that storyline
Mike G.: We wish we had another "War of 1812." But you guys got lucky cuz, let's face it, Chicken Parm was left in the oven too long.
MHR - Tom Brady praised Manning and referred to Brock as "the guy they had in there." That guy had 20 completions, no interceptions and two touchdowns last week against the Bears. Brady had 20 completions, one interception and a touchdown. Ahem. What do you think of our young QB?
Mike G.: Tom is loyal and undoubtedly has great affection (in a manly way) for Mr. Parm. Bossweiler does present a greater challenge with respect to his mobility. Hell, I present more of a challenge in that sense, and I am 56. But I am not sure he had to read ANY progressions last week. Our mediocre defensive pass ranking (21st in the NFL) has to do with yardage. As you know, it doesn't take into account points allowed. Last time I checked, points surrendered is critical. And the Pats are a tenth of a point ahead of the Ponies in that metric.
MHR - Broncos finally had a running game last week, but the Patriots defense is second in the NFL for rushing points allowed per game. Will your team be able to shut down our running game?
Mike G.: Did you seriously just ask that question? Are you drunk? :) Bill will decide which part of your offense is less dangerous and scheme to take away the OTHER part of your game. He's going to make Osweiler beat us. And honestly speaking, Bossweiler might amass a good stats line. But in crunch time, do YOU have faith he can deliver the knockout blow?
MHR - Your offense has lost several weapons, the O-line isn't in that much better shape than the Broncos' and you are playing at Mile High against the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Assuming all Brady's balls are inflated, how is your team going to keep their QB alive this weekend?
Mike G.: Have you been checking Tom's balls? Does Gisele know? 2.1 seconds. I believe that's his release time. Best way for TB12 to avoid a rough night. Maybe the Pats will get lucky and somehow develop a running game early.
MHR - Gronkowski has always been tough to defend, yet last week's double-teaming rendered him relatively ineffective. With Edelman out and Amendola questionable, is Gronk going to slice up the Broncos' defense the way he has so much in the past?
Mike G.: Gronkowski's effectiveness is predicated on the routes he runs. If you see him in tight to aid in blocking, then Denver will be happy. But if he appears in the seam, it's gonna be a good night. Hopefully Aqib will keep his fingers to himself and T.J. will refrain from winding up.
MHR - There were two terrible calls in the Patriots-Bills game, and Broncos fans are irate over several non-calls the past two weeks in their games. What are your expectations for the officiating this week - is this the week we all finally know what a "football move" is?
Mike G.: Winners don't worry about the officiating. We come from a wrestling family, and we always told our wrestlers that you shouldn't put yourself in the position to have an official decide your fate. Football move? If you ask my wife, she'll tell you that my idea of a football move is to reposition my butt cheeks on the couch so I don't develop bed sores.
Stats for Brady? Brady's stat line: 22/30 for 310 with 2 TDs and 1 INT.
Number of yards rushing for Patriots? 87 yards on the ground
Which Patriots receiver gets the most yards? Brandon LaFell 6 for 110, 1 TD
Number of sacks to Brady? 2
Number of sacks on Brock Osweiler? 4
Patriots player with the most sacks? Chandler Jones
Broncos player with the most sacks? Malik Jackson (he's on my fantasy team along with Jones).
Number of penalties? Broncos 6, Patriots 4
Final Score? Patriots 24, Broncos 17
- Favorite time when Patriots lost to the Broncos? Did you actually ask that?
- Oh, ok - favorite win over the Broncos? Not any specific one comes to mind.
- Team you hate to lose to the most? Jets
- Team you love to beat? Ravens
- Superstitions on game day? Start out wearing one of the many championship t-shirts. If we are down at half, I put on the Jerrod Mayo jersey.
- Favorite cheating scandal by your team to date? Definitely "deflategate" because it showed how weak public education outside of New England was. It seems that physics isn't taught in the flyover states...and because when TB12 was forced to play with Luck's balls, he opened up a major can of ass whoopin' on the Junior Ponies.
How did you become a Patriots fan?
I grew up in western Massachusetts in the 1960s as a huge Packers fan. It wasn't till I met the first (and only) Stanford QB to win the Heisman Trophy in 1970 that I got interested in the Pats. So there was a lot of disappointment (1970 thru early this millennium) until the whole thing came together. It's been a fun ride. And you know, Laurie, we are not all Massholes.
*editor's note: Thanks for being a good sport, Mike, and for coming over to MHR to give us a hard time. May tomorrow be a good game with no serious injuries and the best team getting the W (which we all know is my team - haha!). And since you didn't want to talk about your favorite loss to the Broncos, I'll give you my favorite win - the AFC Championship two years ago (that's what you get for not picking one!)