GAME PLAN: The Patriots have been vulnerable in the passing game, and San Diego hit some long plays against them last week. The Broncos haven't been able to get many long plays the past two weeks with opponents playing deep zone coverage against them. They might have a chance to take more shots downfield this week.
Defensively, Denver has to make New England rely on quarterback Matt Cassel and the passing game. The Broncos haven't stopped the run lately, but need to do that this week and hope Cassel makes some mistakes throwing the ball.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos WR Brandon Marshall vs. Patriots CB Deltha O'Neal. O'Neal was beat for a couple of long plays against the Chargers. The Broncos could try to pick on O'Neal, Denver's 2000 first-round draft pick, with the bigger Marshall. O'Neal has played well against Denver in the past, however, when he was with Cincinnati.
Broncos front seven vs. Patriots RBs Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk. Whoever runs the ball for the Patriots, they could have a solid game. Denver's rushing defense has been ineffective the past few weeks. They have especially struggled with shifty backs in space, which could mean good things for Faulk.
Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil vs. Patriots LT Matt Light. Dumervil has been playing better, although he hasn't had the statistics to back that up. He appears on the verge of breaking out. He has a tough task against veteran Light -- who didn't practice on Wednesday because of a knee injury -- but he'll need to get some pressure on quarterback Matt Cassel to help out Denver's secondary.
INJURY IMPACT: TE Tony Scheffler, who has a groin injury, was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. With the bye approaching, he could sit another week and then get additional rest on the bye.
WR Eddie Royal was a full participant in practice and should be able to return from an ankle injury.
WR Brandon Stokley hasn't made much progress after suffering a concussion last week. Unless he improves quickly, he could be out of Denver's game at New England.
RB Ryan Torain practiced for the first time since suffering an elbow injury in early August, but was held out of contact. Torain said he felt good and didn't have any weakness in his arm.
LB Boss Bailey was held out of practice Wednesday. He has had a recurring ankle problem but could still play this week.
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