New England Patriots v. Broncos: Week 10 game preview and predictions

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24: Rob Gronkowski
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24: Rob Gronkowski /

The New England Patriots will take on a familiar foe on Sunday Night Football tonight, and they’re hoping to send a message after the bye week.

The 6-2 New England Patriots will take on the terrible 3-5 Denver Broncos on Sunday night, in what used to be a great matchup. With Peyton Manning long gone though, the Broncos have had to rely on their solid defense to remain a good team. Those days may be over now though.

Denver has lost their last 4 games, and they allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to score 51 points last week. They have also lost to two of the worst teams in the NFL, the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers. This Broncos team, now lead by Brock Osweiler at QB once again, just is not good. They now rank 25th in the league in points allowed per game at 24.8, a full 8 spots lower than the Patriots.

Like Carson Wentz did last week, Tom Brady should be able to tear apart this free-falling Denver defense. The run game could also be in line for a big day as well, with Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee all finding some level of success.

After the bye week, this could also be a huge game for the Patriots defense. New England has been improving week to week, and it looks like Stephon Gilmore will be back in the mix now. The Patriots also added a new defensive tackle this week. Ricky Jean Francois. He should be in the rotation and on the field on Sunday.

This is a game that the New England Patriots should control from start to finish.

Tom Brady: 32 of 43 for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns

The New England Patriots have red zone problems, but after the bye week, those have likely been addressed. Tom Brady surely wants to score more touchdowns and leave the field goal unit on the sideline and he should be able to do just that in the game against Denver. Rob Gronkowski will certainly aim to become more of a target within the 20, and perhaps new addition Martellus Bennett will as well.

Brady should be able to surpass 300 yards in this game, but it’s interesting to note that Wentz didn’t have to last week as his Eagles rolled. Wentz had just 199 yards, but 4 touchdowns.

Dion Lewis: 7 carries for 24 yards, 6 catches for 49 yards and 1 touchdown

The Eagles found a way to run against this Denver defense, but the New England Patriots have even more versatile backs. Dion Lewis is in line for a huge game in this one. The shifty back should carry the ball a few times while also becoming a clear target for Tom Brady. Lewis seems to always make the most of his touches, and he’ll have at least one long reception.

Rob Gronkowski: 6 catches for 78 yards and 1 touchdown

Rob Gronkowski needs to become more of a threat in the red zone, and his touchdown in this one will come from within that area. He’ll have an impact on the rest of the game as well, with 6 total catches for over 75 yards. That’s honestly a bit of a conservative game for Gronk, but he won’t be the only weapon for Brady on Sunday night.

Martellus Bennett: 2 catches for 16 yards and 1 touchdown (If he plays)

Martellus Bennett is back with the New England Patriots, but it’s not yet known if he’ll play in this game. Ian Rapoport says there’s a chance he does go, but his Green Bay Packers situation is still ongoing.

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Bennett was released by the Packers last week after they claimed that the TE failed to disclose the medical condition of his shoulder injury. Bennett denies their claims though and thinks that his release was all because of money. That situation doesn’t really matter for the Patriots though, as they have a cheap backup tight end for the rest of the season. Dwayne Allen has struggled behind Gronk and fans are excited to have Marty B back in Foxboro.

If Bennett plays, it would likely only be for a couple of plays, but he should get involved in the red zone with two short catches and a touchdown.

Malcolm Butler: 2 interceptions

Defensively, Malcolm Butler could have a huge day. A lot of the focus may be on Stephon Gilmore’s return, but Butler wants to step up and play like a #1 cornerback once again. He will line up all over the field, but he has the chance to intercept some passes with Brock Osweiler throwing them up. Let’s give him two in this one.

Game Prediction: Patriots 31, Broncos 17

Next: Patriots 2017 second half preview

Pulling from my second half preview for the New England Patriots, here’s what I had to say about this Denver game.

"The Denver defense is still solid, but they’ve begun to give up points. I think New England is going to be extremely eager to get the offense back on the field after a poor showing in week 8, and they’ll reach 30-points once again for the first time since the Carolina game. This will be a let down for a Sunday night game as the Patriots win it easily off their bye week."

New England’s defense will help to control this game all the way through, and the Patriots will sit atop the AFC East for another week.