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Ultimate Fan: No choice but to beat the Patriots

It’s a must-win game that the Broncos really should win.

New York Jets v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It’s Christmas Eve Eve and this Ultimate Fan Guide brought to you by DBforLife is an early Christmas present for Broncos Country! After a blowout loss in Detroit, Denver has a chance to get back on track Sunday night at home against the Patriots.

This is no Tom Brady-Peyton Manning mega-matchup, but even a 3-11 Patriots team is one to take seriously. Just ask the Chiefs who nearly let that one get away from them. And the Broncos know that the only chance they have of the playoffs now is winning out and hoping for a little help.

But we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves...right now the Broncos just have to take care of business at home. Plus! They are wearing their snowcapped helmets and orange uniforms this week - which I LOVE! But the last game they wore them (Jets) didn’t turn out so well, so the Broncos need to fix that Sunday so this uniform isn’t jinxed!

And what better time to do all that than a snowy Christmas Eve game at Mile High. The best Christmas present ever is always a W.

Week 16: Patriots at Broncos - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

MHR - The Detroit game was a huge letdown. What were your thoughts about that game and how big of a deal was that loss?
DBforLife: That game was a gut bunch. It was not as bad as the Miami game, but it was bad. Also, the loss put us in a situation where we have to win out and hope the right teams lose.

MHR - The Patriots have one of the worst records in the league at 3-11. But it’s Bill Belichick, and if there’s ever a coach who can scheme, it is that guy. What are your biggest concerns about the Patriots head coach this weekend?
DBforLife: His health. All of those Patriots’ losses cannot be good for his heart. He may be good at scheming, but so far he has schemed himself to 11 losses. You can scheme a perfect game, but without talent that will not take you very far.

MHR - ESPN writer Mike Bowen looked at 101 different football traits and identified two Broncos players - guard Quinn Meinerz and cornerback Pat Surtain II – as being the best at one of those. Bowen chose Meinerz as the best second-level blocker, while Surtain took the honor of best defensive back technique. What do you think of those players and their importance to this team … especially right now?
DBforLife: I love Surtain. He is one of the best corners in the league, and we should keep him for his entire career. Meinerz has improved quite a bit. Considering how bad our line has been over the last half-decade, we should try to keep him.

MHR - The Patriots are playing with a second-year QB in Bailey Zappe. He’s had some good performances (first half against the Chiefs) and bad ones (second-half versus the Chiefs). It seems like pressure on him and the Pats’ offensive line would be a really good thing. Can this Broncos defense rattle Zappe and the offense enough to dominate?
DBforLife: Yes. We should play very aggressively and send multiple blitzes at him. He has thrown an interception in four of his last five games. If we amp up the blitzes and the fans come ready to make some noise, he will get rattled and make more mistakes than he usually does.

MHR - Hunter Henry has easily been one of the bright spots for the Patriots offense, and just a good TE in general. If he remains hurt, how good is that for the Broncos defense?
DBforLife: For as long as I have been a Broncos fan we have had a problem covering tight ends, and that goes back to Dave Caspar. Henry’s injury is huge for us.

MHR - The Patriots running backs are serviceable but the Broncos’ run defense certainly has been a weakness. Can the Broncos handle this group or is it a major concern this week?
DBforLife: It will only be a concern if we keep missing so many tackles.

MHR - The Broncos defense’s luck on turnovers hit a wall last week, but it was a much better offense. Is this the week the defense is able to rack up INTs and fumbles once again?
DBforLife: With Zappe at quarterback, we should be able to get at least one interception and possibly a strip sack.

MHR - Russell Wilson’s performance seems to be dependent on having time and the offensive line seems to have trouble with really strong defensive fronts. How well do you expect the offense to hold up against a defense that has caused fits for other teams?
DBforLife: That may be the key of the game. New England has the second-best rushing defense, and Russ plays much better when we can effectively run the ball. If the offensive line plays smart, coordinated football we can control the line of scrimmage - which is the key in almost every football game. If we cannot effectively run the ball, and Russ tries to play hero ball, we are in trouble.

MHR - Christian Barmore in particular has been a problem with sacks and tackles for a loss. How can the Broncos’ offense avoid his wrath at all costs?
DBforLife: We could chip him and run more screens and roll out pass plays.

MHR - Quick passes to Jeudy on the slant seems like a good way to move down the field - rather than long-developing passes to Sutton or Mims. Would you agree? Or some more short passes to Samaje Perine? What plays can get this offense moving quickly?
DBforLife: I love the idea of throwing quick slants to Jeudy, but Jeudy seems invisible to Russ. Throwing swing passes to our running backs could be an effective way to move down the field with an occasional long pass to Sutton or Mims to keep New England honest. Wow, I cannot believe I just typed New England and honest in the same sentence.

MHR - How important do you expect special teams to be this week? Sean Payton always comments on it, and field position could be everything in this game - especially against a team with a rather poor field goal kicker.
DBforLife: Special teams is always important, but their importance has been watered down with the fair catch rule on kickoffs. Since we do not score a lot of touchdowns, Lutz could be a big part of the game, and coverage teams have to play well also.

MHR - What was more thrilling … CJ Anderson’s touchdown in OT to beat the Patriots in the 2015 regular season OR Denver’s defensive stand against a two-point conversion to beat the Patriots in the AFC West Championship? (p.s. - it’s a terrible question, you can answer “both” )
DBforLife: hahaha. Both!

Predictions

Stats for RUSSELL WILSON? 16 of 28 for 225 yards with 1 TD and 0 interceptions

Stats for each Broncos RB? Perine: 18 for 75 yards, 1 TD. Jameel: 6 for 30 yards. Javonte: 8 for 35 yards

Number of yards receiving/TDs for the receivers? Sutton: 6 for 98 yards, TD. Mims: 2 for 30 yards. Jeudy: 3 for 45 yards.

Longest FG for Lutz? 45 yards

How many missed FG for Patriots’ Ryland? 0

Number of sacks to Bailey Zappe? 4

Broncos player with the most tackles? Singleton

Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Browning

How many times will Wilson get sacked because he holds onto the ball too f-ing long? 2

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Lions D? 0/0/0

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos’ D? 2/1/1

How many holding penalties for the Broncos? 3

Final Score? 20-10 Broncos

The Favorites

Favorite John Elway win outside of the Super Bowls? The Drive

Favorite Broncos win ever? The first Super Bowl win

Favorite Peyton Manning win? Super Bowl 50

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? It used to the Raiders, now it is KC

Coach you laugh at the most in the NFL? Josh McDaniels

Coach you most want to throw an egg at? Belichik

Team you hate to lose to the most in the rest of the AFC? It changes every year. This year it is Miami

NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? San Francisco

NFC team you want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? Cowboys

Favorite game so far this season? The win over KC

Most important game left on the schedule? All of them

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Surtain

Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Gradishar and TD

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? I am not sure if he is a rookie, but Locke. Otherwise, Mims.

Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? Beer

Favorite game analyst/commentator? Romo

If YOU were giving a tour of the Ring of Fame, who do you highlight? Gradishar

How did you choose your MHR handle? It was because I became a Broncos fan in 1978, and I will always be a fan.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

My uncle knew Gradishar at OSU, and he used to work out with him on occasion.

Poll

Favorite win over the Patriots

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Shannon Sharpe’s "Call the National Guard" game ;)
    (19 votes)
  • 22%
    CJ Anderson’s walk-off TD in OT in regular season 2015
    (21 votes)
  • 27%
    Broncos’ two-point conversion stop (INT by Roby) in 2015 AFC Championship
    (26 votes)
  • 30%
    Champ Bailey’s 100-yard INT return in 2006 playoffs
    (29 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now