The Denver Broncos (8-5) could be seeing their season slip away as they face a gauntlet no other team has ever faced since the league expanded to 16-games: face their final three opponents who all hold a 10-3 or better record. First up, the New England Patriots (11-2) who will be looking for a bit of revenge for how this rivalry fared for them in 2015.
Obviously, the key for the Broncos defense is to put Tom Brady on his back and keep the pressure going all game long. On offense, the Broncos have got to rediscover their run game and it needs to begin and end with Justin Forsett, who may be the Broncos last hope in 2016 to get their offense jump started. As we saw last week, “letting Trevor Siemian loose” is a losing proposition. Victory must flow through the ground game.
The Broncos have lost three of their last five and five of their last nine. That is not a playoff team. This game will tell us whether or not that stretch is a slump or just plain reality.
Kickoff is set for Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 2:25 p.m. Mile High time at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado.
TV schedule and TV channels
The game will be broadcast on CBS with Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Phil Simms (color analyst), and Tracy Wolfson (sideline reporting) covering the game.
Both Alaska and Hawaii will get the game, along with any location within the RED areas below.
DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket has expanded its online streaming service. Verizon subscribers can watch games live with the NFL Mobile app (subscription required, and usual TV blackout rules apply even online).
Nationally, the game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio with Adam Amin (play-by-play), Bill Polian (color analyst), and Ian Fitzsimmons (sideline reporting).
Colorado can listen on KOA (850 AM) or The Fox (133.5 FM) with Dave Logan (play-by-play), Ed McCaffrey (color analyst), and Andy Lindahl (sideline reporting).
Spanish radio KNVR (1150 AM) will also broadcast the game with Javier Olivias (play-by-play), Carlos Valdez (color analyst), and Hector Salazar (sideline reporting).
The Broncos opened 3-point home underdogs to the AFC powerhouse Patriots, but that line has since risen another half point to 3.5 in many places. Clearly, bettors don’t have much faith in the Broncos offense to come out on top in this game.
Brandon Marshall has been ruled out for this game and Todd Davis is questionable. The good news is that everyone else is looking healthy and ready to go. Nevermind Bill Belichick’s nonsense of making everyone questionable for this game. I suppose he needs whatever competitive edge he thinks this gives him.
The best quotes this week came from Von Miller in a post he wrote for The Player’s Tribune.
"Most of my sacks come from winning that tiny fraction of a second after the ball is snapped," Miller wrote. "If I don’t anticipate the snap count and get an explosive first step, I don’t really have a chance."
The NFL is a game of matchups and I just feel like the Broncos simply matchup better against the Patriots than they did last week against the Tennessee Titans. However, it’s still the Patriots and the Broncos offense still needs to get production somewhere other than up to just outside of field goal range.
The No Fly Zone is actually better than it was in 2015, so Brady isn’t going to be blowing this team out. It is also encouraging that the run defense was a significant factor in the second half last week. It happened when the Titans wanted to run the ball the most too.
I think the Broncos offense will finally find some running lanes with Forsett carrying the load, allowing Siemian to focus on picking up key third downs and maybe more than one touchdown pass this week. That is the winning formula in this game and I’m going to keep the faith that they’ll finally figure it out - when it matters most.
Prediction: Broncos 24, Patriots 20