1. Patriots Pass Defense
The Patriots pass defense was absolutely horrible against the San Diego Chargers, giving up big play after big play. Now Denver comes to town. They are second in the NFL in passing yardage averaging 279.3 yard per game. Last Sunday night the San Diego passing attack destroyed New England's pass defense. Charger quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns including passes for 48, 49 and 59 yards. Add to that a 32 yard defensive pass interference penalty.
It will not get easier this Monday night. Jay Cutler, the third-year Bronco quarterback has passed for 1,694 yards this season, the third-highest total in the NFL, and has 12 touchdown passes, fourth most in the league.
Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall served a one game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct code and still leads the NFL with 43 catches, including 18 in Week 2. Marshall is fourth in the league with 521 yards and has three touchdowns in five games. The Broncos Rookie wide receiver Eddie Royal has been a very pleasant surprise for Denver, the second-round pick has 30 receptions for 321 yards, and he too has miss one game this year that was due to injury. (sprained left ankle.)
2. The Patriots cannot win a shoot out with Denver.
The San Diego Chargers were last in pass defense entering last week's game against the Patriots. There was a thought (not my thought) that the Patriots and Matt Cassel would be able to throw the ball against the Chargers. That didn't happen. The Chargers have a quarterback who could get his playmakers the football. Cassel was not, and is not, that man for the Patriots.
Although this week Denver takes over as the worse pass defense in the NFL (thanks to the Patriots poor performance San Diego was able to move one spot ahead of Denver) the Patriots play proved again last week that they will not be able to keep up with good scoring teams no matter how bad the opponents defense might be. The Patriots rank 22nd in the NFL in passing averaging 186.2 yards a game and 25th in overall offense averaging 17.8 points a game. Hardly the kind of offensive explosion capable of keeping with the number two passing offense in the league.
3. The Patriots will not be able to get pressure on the quarterback.
Last week the Patriots had zero sacks against the Chargers. Although the Patriots did a decent job on the San Diego rushing attack, it wasn't all because of what they were doing. The Charger plan was to pass the ball and challenge the Patriots defensive backs. Which they did over and over again. If you can't get pressure on the opposing quarterback, your defensive is asking, no make that begging for it to get picked apart. Instead of Vincent Jackson who will remind no one of a certain pro bowl receiver that plays for Dallas, the Broncos have what many have called a poor mans version of Terrell Owens in Brandon Marshall. He is a better receiver and much more physical than Jackson. This is trouble waiting to happen for the defensive backfield of the Patriots.
4. Denver has the Patriots number.
You may not believe this reason but maybe this will convince you. Denver is just one of just two opponents to hold a winning record at Gillette Stadium (2-0, following a 24-16 win in 2002 and a 17-7 win in 2006). The other is Green Bay (1-0). The Broncos are the only NFL team to which the Patriots have a current losing streak of multiple games. New England has lost its last two regular-season contests to Denver (three games including playoffs). The Broncos are the only team the Patriots have lost to twice in the playoffs (1986 and 2005). New England's 11 other playoff losses have been to 11 different clubs.
Mike Shanahan has been a thorn in the side of Bill Belichick and has gone up against the defensive genius' schemes. Now he goes against the Patriots without Tom Brady who has quarterbacked Patriots losses to Denver.
5. Denver's offensive will test and score on the Patriots defense.
Denver's is not just a passing team. Anyone who has watched the NFL for the past few years know that Denver always can run the football. It's been one of the staples of their organization to run the football good. There offensive line is still amongst the leagues best and the offensive line coaches may arguable be the league best. New England is 21st in the NFL in rushing defense allowing 119.4 yards a game. Denver is 10th in the NFL in rushing offense at 120.3 rushing yards a game. Two out of the last 3 games the Patriot defense has had trouble stopping the opposing offense. And even when they defeated the 49ers, they still were being scored on. Without the ability to score points on a consistent basis if and when the Patriots fall behind it may be beyond what the can do game plan wise, play calling and adjustment wise and quarterback wise to catch up to the Broncos.
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Be sure to look for Part two where PI gives you five reasons why the Patriots will win.