Broncos v. Patriots - Game Plan and Matchups

The Denver Broncos will still try to get their running game going against the New England Patriots, but they need to open up the passing game as well. Read about the game plan and the matchups for Sunday night's game.

SERIES HISTORY: 39th meeting. The Denver Broncos have a 23-15 record against the New England Patriots in the regular season. The Broncos have also won both playoff games, in 1986 and last season. The Broncos beat the Patriots 13-10 in 1960, in the first game in American Football League history.

GAME PLAN: The Broncos have to figure out how to keep Jake Plummer out of dangerous situations without compromising their offense. Last week the Broncos were very conservative against Kansas City, a direct reaction to a five-turnover game in the season opener. Plummer had four of those turnovers.

The Broncos will still try to get their running game going, but they need to open up the passing game as well.

Defensively the Broncos are on a roll. Their challenge this week is slowing down the Patriots running game, controlling the tight ends and putting pressure on New England's receivers to make plays.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos offensive line vs. Patriots defensive line -- Denver's undersized offensive line sometimes struggles against big defensive fronts. The Patriots' line of Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour -- when they use a 3-4 look -- is one of the biggest in the business. The Broncos have also had problems with their zone-blocking scheme against 3-4 defenses, so when the Patriots run a three-man front it will be an important matchup for Denver.

--Patriots TE Ben Watson vs. Broncos LB D.J. Williams and S Sam Brandon -- Williams, the strong-side linebacker, and Brandon, the extra defensive back in the "big nickel" package, will be busy against Watson. Watson is New England's leading receiver. If the Broncos can take him out of the game, it would put more pressure on the Patriots receivers to make plays. Brandon matches up well against some of the top tight ends in the AFC West.

--Patriots ORT Ryan O'Callaghan vs. Broncos DE's Kenard Lang and Ebenezer Ekuban -- The Broncos rotate their ends based on the strong side of the offensive formation. Ekuban and Lang have played well and they'll attack O'Callaghan, a rookie. The Broncos need to get some pressure on quarterback Tom Brady if they want to force some turnovers.

INJURY IMPACT: WR Rod Smith suffered a concussion last week but he will be ready to play. He practiced on Wednesday.

--DE Courtney Brown will likely miss another game. His injured knee isn't improving. The Broncos hope he's ready after the bye week but that isn't a sure thing.

--RB Cedric Cobbs has a sprained right ankle and will miss this week's game against New England. Cobbs could return after Denver's bye in Week 4.



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