Not many teams can stop the Denver Broncos' rushing attack, but the New England Patriots haven't allowed much on the ground lately.
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has repeated one statistic this week – in the second half of the season the Patriots allowed 2.9 yards per rushing attempt. That doesn't count a regular-season finale against Miami when the Patriots rested many starters.
"That's unprecedented," Shanahan said.
The matchup will be strength vs. strength. The Broncos won't give up their running game. They were second in the NFL with 33.9 rushing attempts per game.
"We're going to still stick to what we do," receiver Ashley Lelie said. "We don't worry too much about what they're doing. We got our plan and our system and we'll stick with it."
The Broncos rushed for 178 yards against New England on Oct. 16. But the Patriots were missing some key players in that game, including defensive lineman Richard Seymour and linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
The Broncos will try to exploit whatever they can on New England's defense, but they know that it will be difficult to find any.
"If you do pick up a weakness, it's not there very long," Shanahan said. "You have to adjust throughout the whole game, and they are fundamentally sound. They play good solid football."
--CB Darrent Williams should play on Saturday. He has a groin injury but
has practiced all week. The Broncos don't know how he'll react in a game
situation, however. Denver wasn't testing him too hard during practice early
in the week because the Broncos didn't want to set him back.
--G Ben Hamilton has had a very good season. He'll be important on
Saturday against New England, getting to the Patriots' talented inside
linebackers on Denver's zone running plays.
--LB Al Wilson's biggest asset this year is his mental approach. He's not
getting by on physical talent alone. He is seeing the game well and
anticipating better than he ever has in his career.
--SS Nick Ferguson will be important in run support against New England.
If the Patriots can get their running game going against Denver, it will
make Tom Brady even more dangerous.
--WR Ashley Lelie has played a pretty solid all around game in recent
weeks. Lelie is a good deep threat but has caught some short passes lately.
He would help Denver's offense be more diverse if he can become a complete
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