Both the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots enter with questions at quarterback.
For the Broncos, it’s Drew Lock and his shoulder.
For the Patriots, it’s Cam Newton and his COVID-19 positivity.
In both instances, it appears both are longshots to play on Sunday in Foxborough.
That means Brett Rypien time once again in Broncos Country.
BetMGM currently has the Broncos at an 11-point underdog. Even with the uncertainty surrounding Newton, that’s not a surprise. After all, Bill Belichick is still there and he has a defense that just held Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs offense to 19 points. Now the Patriots get a quarterback who is about to make his second NFL start.
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On the MHR Radio Podcast, Adam Malnati and I previewed the Week 5 game, gave our players to watch and keys to the game.
Denver: Twenty-ninth in overall offense (306.8 yards per game), 29th in rushing (92.5), 25th in passing (214.3), 30th in scoring offense (15.0 points per game).
New England: Tied for eighth in overall offense (396.0 yards per game), second in rushing (179.8), 24th in passing (216.3), 32nd in scoring offense.
Denver: Sixteenth in overall in defense (365.3 yards per game), 13th in rushing defense (109.0), 21st in passing defense (256.3), 14th in scoring defense (24.5 points per game).
New England: Ninth overall defense (349.0 yards per game), 17th in rushing defense (115.3), 10th in passing defense (233.8), tied for eighth in scoring defense (23.0).
Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.
Win the turnover battle
Could probably use this for any game, but with a quarterback making his second start and a defense that just held Mahomes and that high-powered machine in check, Rypien and the Broncos can’t give possessions away. Since it looks like Newton won’t play, that’s where Denver’s defense can help by talking possessions away from the Patriots. Win the turnover battle, the Broncos have a puncher’s chance to win Sunday. — Ian St. Clair
Hope Cam can’t play
(Pretty much speaks for itself). — Joe Rowles
Denver can only hope for so much production from Rypien against a Belichick defense, so it has to come out and win with turnovers and stout defensive play. A low scoring game is the only way the Broncos come out on top here. If they lose this week and next week against the Miami Dolphins, we could be back on the Tank4Trevor train. — Tim Lynch
Big plays from playmakers
Denver is not one that is consistently good on either side of the ball. The Broncos need impact plays from high-talent guys like Jerry Jeudy, Melvin Gordon, or Tim Patrick. — sadaraine
Control the football
Gordon has been one of the best players on the field for Denver. If the Broncos can limit the number of offensive possessions that New England has, and control the clock, they can win this game. Gordon will be a key component of that battle. — Adam Malnati