Broncos-Patriots has been one of the better rivalries in the AFC over the years, but their upcoming matchup may not have quite as much luster. We don’t have Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in this rivalry anymore, so it may be a while until we see these teams square off in another AFC playoff game.
So, we’ll forgive you if you haven’t had the Denver Broncos‘ Week 6 trip to Foxborough circled on your calendar. The Broncos have had extra time off after beating the Jets on Thursday Night Football back in Week 4, ahead of last week’s unscheduled bye. The Patriots also had a week off after losing to the Chiefs back in Week 4 after Cam Newton was sidelined due to a positive test.
Newton will be back on the field this week, while the Broncos will be getting starting quarterback Drew Lock back onto the field following his injury. Denver is a nine-point underdog in this one, which features an over/under of 45 points.
Since signing with the New England Patriots, Cam Newton has done nothing but make the rest of the NFL look silly for passing on him this offseason. Newton has completed about 68 percent of his throws for 714 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions thus far, but he has also added another 149 rushing yards with four more rushing scores across his three starts.
New England is 2-1 on the season with Newton under center, with the only loss being a last-second defeat at Seattle back in Week 2. The former MVP has been everything Bill Belichick could have possibly hoped for, and his presence in the ground game has transformed the Patriots’ offense overnight.
While Newton is a capable passer, the Patriots appear dedicated to winning games with their legs at this point. New England has passed on just 49.1 percent of their plays to this point, which is the third-lowest pass play percentage in the league. Only the Browns and Rams have thrown the ball less frequently. The Pats are averaging 179.8 yards per game on the ground, which is second-best in the league behind Cleveland.
While Newton has done plenty of that damage, Belichick is also getting solid production out of his backfield. Sony Michel is averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Damien Harris is at 5.9 yards per carry. James White is at 5.4. Rex Burkhead is at 4.3. If you’re gashing opponents for that kind of yardage on a consistent basis, why would you do anything else?
The Broncos rank seventh in the league in DVOA against the run so far this season, but so far nobody has been able to slow down New England’s rushing attack with Newton in the fold.
Can Lock Stay Healthy?
Drew Lock showed promise last season as a rookie, but he went down back in Week 2 against the Steelers with a shoulder injury. The Broncos say Lock has fared well in practice all week, so expect him to be back on the field at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
Frankly, this is a brutal spot for Lock. The Patriots’ old school approach features a solid ground game and an elite defense. The defense has looked a bit more wobbly so far this season, but they remain elite at taking the ball away. The Patriots’ defense has forced eight turnovers already this season, which ranks tied for the fourth-most in the league.
Broncos' QB Drew Lock, who has been sidelined since Week 2 with a shoulder injury, was a full participant at Wednesday's practice.
As you may have expected, the Broncos have been among the worst in the league in terms of coughing up possessions. Denver has turned the ball over eight times themselves, which is tied for the third-highest total in the league. Lock played just over one game before giving way to the ineffective Jeff Driskel, who was subsequently replaced by Brett Rypien back in Week 4. Having Lock back in the fold should help the Broncos cut down on their giveaways, but going on the road to face the Patriots is no easy task.
Denver also has issues in the backfield. Phillip Lindsay is set to return after missing several games with a toe injury, but the Broncos may be without Melvin Gordon. Gordon was cited for a DUI earlier this week, and he may be suspended for this one. If so, Denver may have to rely on a less-than-100 percent Lindsay and Royce Freeman to shoulder a heavy load in the running game.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots Pick
WIth Newton back in the lineup, it’s impossible to imagine the Patriots losing this game. The Broncos have been an injury-riddled mess all season long, and the matchup is a difficult one for Drew and this inexperienced offense. I expect Newton and the Pats’ offense to set the tempo and control the clock all afternoon in this one.
Nine points is a sizable spread by NFL standards, but it doesn’t look high enough. New England outclasses Denver in terms of sheer talent on both sides of the ball, and the defense in particular should be able to get back on track.
There is solid value in the Patriots to cover the spread here. While 89 percent of the money has come in on Denver to cover, I’ll be on the opposite side here. Bet on New England to win this game easily at home.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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