The Patriots are looking to get back in the win column this week after falling to the Chiefs last Monday. They were without Cam Newton and still showed they are capable of hanging with the top team in football. As for this weeks matchup against the Denver Broncos, there’s a lot to watch out for from now until kickoff.
NEW ENGLANDS QUARTERBACK SITUATION:
There’s obviously a ton of uncertainty ahead of Monday’s game regarding Cam Newton’s status. The Patriots quarterback is eligible to suit up against the Broncos, however he must be asymptomatic, and pass two tests 24 hours apart. Newton’s value to this team can’t be understated. Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham showed just how important Cam really is to this offense.
As of this morning Bill Belichick would not name a starter, saying, he’s taking it “hour by hour.” This will be a critical decision because neither Brian Hoyer nor Jarrett Stidham looked ready for an NFL game last week.
If in fact Cam can’t play come Monday, I think Belichick is handing the ball to Stidham. He showed flashes against the Chiefs, particularly the touchdown pass to N’Keal Harry. Whether it’s Newton or Stidham under center, the Broncos secondary has struggled this year. Denver’s pass defense ranks 21st, giving up 256 yards per game. Through four weeks Denver’s opponents have thrown seven touchdowns compared to just one interception.
THE PATRIOTS RUN GAME:
New England’s strong suit is their run game, especially when Cam Newton is playing. That being said, his absence last week didn’t stop the team from racking up 185 yards on the ground. The team got a boost from Damien Harris who ran for 100 yards, showcasing his explosiveness with a 41 yard run. Harris is in position to take over the RB1 spot if he continues to play like this. He is my pick for the player to watch this week, and he should get plenty of touches with no Sony Michel for the foreseeable future.
A CLOSE LOOK AT DENVER’S OFFENSE:
The Broncos have talent in the run game with Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay. Gordon has played well for his new team so far, while Lindsay is returning from a toe injury he suffered in week 1. The combination of the two presents a challenge for New England, but it’s nothing they can’t handle. The Patriots will focus on the run to force Denver to throw the ball, which is not what the Broncos want to do. However, Denver does have a rising star named Jerry Jeudy you should watch out for, he’s a very talented rookie. But the injuries to everyone else will be just to much for Denver to overcome. Noah Fant their second year tight end was just ruled out, leaving former practice squad QB Brett Rypien in an awful spot.
At the start of the season I had picked Denver as my AFC sleeper team. However, like many things in 2020, it all went sideways. The Broncos quarterback situation has been messy to put it nicely. So on Monday, the Patriots secondary will shut down Denver’s passing attack with ease. If Cam Newton returns, this game should turn into a blowout.
–Michael Quilty is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @boston_sp0rts20