It’s not just the heavy snowfall that’s going to make the annual game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots a rather weird occurance. It’s mostly going to be the fact that Tom Brady won’t be having Peyton Manning playing opposite of him.
As things stand right now, last year’s regular season game between the Broncos and the Patriots might have been the last time these two legendary quarterbacks have gone head to head. Like all but one of the Broncos – Patriots games in the Manning era, the Pats won that game. The Broncos won the only encounter that took place in the playoffs, beating the Patriots in the AFC championship game before going on to lose against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
It’s been two years since then. A lot of things have changed. Manning has broken two huge quarterback records – career touchdowns and career passing yards, but his ability has deteriorated to a point where it seems that he’s not being benched because of injury (although at 40, every hit is an injury for an NFL quarterback) but because of his ability. Brady? He works within the perfect system, and added the fourth Super Bowl ring to his collection, amid all the controversy about deflated balls and headsets being messed with.
The Patriots might be undefeated going into Denver and their stingy defense, but they’ve got a lot of injuries, including Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, to try and deal with. While Brady has been doing just fine, the last few weeks have been more difficult for him, and at some point maybe all these missing offensive pieces make it difficult for him from start to finish. The Broncos are going to double and triple Rob Gronkowski in hope it throws Brady off his game, but the pass rush is going to be the main thing.
This might be the last time the Patriots face a team with a winning record until the end of the season. Yes, their schedule has been comfortable so far, but it also has something to do with the fact that just nine teams in the NFL have a winning record right now. Yes, it’s been that weird of a season, although seeing Brock Osweiler buried in snow facing Brady in this contest and not Manning might be the weirdest of them all.