New England (11-2) at Denver (8-5)
When: Sunday, December 18th 2016
Where: Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO
Time: 4:25 ET | TV: CBS
The Denver Broncos look to stay in the playoff hunt when they host the New England Patriots on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game. Denver is currently tied with Miami for the final spot in the AFC, but face a tough closing schedule that includes Sunday’s tilt with New England, then Oakland and Kansas City – those three are a combined 31-8. Denver has lost three of their last five games with one of those wins coming on a blocked extra point that they returned for a 2-point conversion against New Orleans. Four those five games came on the road and the Broncos will close with two of three at home. The lack of a consistent running game has put more pressure on quarterback Trevor Siemian, who has thrown for 702 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions over the past two games. In last week’s 13-10 loss at Tennessee, Siemian threw the ball 51 times. WR Demaryius Thomas has 100 yards receiving in three of the last five meetings versus New England. The Broncos have perhaps the league’s best cornerback tandem in Chris Harris Jr. and ex-Patriot Aqib Talib and are No. 1 in the NFL against the pass. Von Miller has 13.5 sacks for Denver, which dropped Brady five times in last season’s playoff win.
New England is coming off a 30-23 Monday night victory over Baltimore in a game that really wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Patriots are trying to hold a one-game lead over Kansas City for the top seed in the AFC, something they failed to get last year by losing their final two games and having to go to Denver in the AFC Championship. It’s a game quarterback Tom Brady has not forgotten. “watched it a bunch this offseason.” Facing the league’s top-ranked defense, Brady picked apart the Ravens by throwing for three touchdowns and a season high-tying 406 yards. Brady has 21 touchdown passes and two interceptions in his last 10 games versus Denver. He will have a new weapon to throw to this week in Michael Floyd, who was released by the Cardinals three days after he was arrested for a DUI. Facing the league’s top-ranked pass defense would mean more touches for running back LeGarrette Blount, who has establish career highs with 14 rushing touchdowns and 1,029 yards. New England’s defense is permitting an AFC-low 17.7 points per game and have held three of their last four opponents to 17 points or less.
The home team has dominated this series recently, winning the last seven games since 2012 and covering the spread in every one. I think Denver will get the offense going a little more Sunday and the defense will hold Brady in check. It will be a field goal game, so I’ll take the points.
Pick: Broncos +3.5