In week ten, the New England Patriots travel to Colorado to face the waning Denver Broncos. The Broncos head into this game in an uncontrollable four-game skid that does not show any signs of stopping. The offense’s inability to perform has been the story of the season for Denver. In their last four contests, the Broncos have been outscored 124-52.

Take advantage of the quarterback quagmire

To say the Broncos have a problem at quarterback is an understatement. Trevor Siemian sputtered out after a decent start to the season, leading to his benching. Brock Osweiler got the nod against the Philadelphia Eagles but failed to perform any better than the floundering Siemian. Osweiler lobbed two interceptions to only one touchdown. It was the only time the Denver offense found the end zone. On Monday, it was confirmed that Osweiler would remain the starting quarterback against the Patriots.

Denver is tied for third place in sacks allowed. The Patriots are not exactly reeling off the sacks this season. The defense is unlikely to turn into a quarterback-seeking missile in week ten, but the front seven should apply enough heat to keep the Broncos offense in check. The last time the Patriots held a team scoreless on the road was week 17 of the 2008 season against the Buffalo Bills. Against an offense this bad, the Patriots might look to update that statistic.

Turn takeaways into points

The Broncos defense is a beast to be feared every year, and this year is no exception. The secondary is only allowing quarterbacks a 59.8% completion rate. Alex Smith, operating with laser precision this season, only posted a completion rate of 45.2% against the Denver secondary. Smith, whose 18 touchdowns this season trails only Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, tossed only one at home.

That is not to compare Brady to Smith. Smith is having a career year so far. The point is that the Patriots shouldn’t expect a shootout in Denver. The offense may not be able to rack up points arcade-style off of standard possessions alone.

Fortunately, the Broncos give the ball away far more than they take the ball away. The Broncos have seven takeaways through week nine (five interceptions, two fumbles recovered) and 19 giveaways (12 interceptions, seven fumbles recovered). The Patriots defense has been abysmal in taking the ball away (two interceptions, three fumbles recovered). But if there were ever a week that the offense could use a short field to score on, it would be this one.

Shut out the noise

The history of Brady in Denver is less than favorable, losing three of his last four games at MileHigh Stadium. In those four games, the two-time NFL most valuable player managed to throw only five touchdowns. One of these matchups in 2015 featured a relatively unknown Osweiler.

Further, Brady has lost all three playoff games that he has played in Denver and has been sacked six times in his last two visits to Mile High. In his last visit, Brady didn’t find the end zone once through the air. The Patriots pulled out a 16-3 win on the legs of Stephen Gostkowski and LeGarrette Blount.Whether he is cursed to perform terribly in Denver or it’s a result of the thin air and crowd, Brady’s play has been historically sub-par in the Centennial State.

The Patriots are not easily rattled by talk, but this conversation has some historical heft to back it up. The conversation about Brady’s age and impending retirement is incessant and unnecessary. But the potential of another poor performance in Denver has headlines dredging up his ugly past to add to the conversation about his uncertain future. This game was listed in the preseason as one of the Patriots most difficult games of 2017. The Patriots are favored to win this matchup, but the spread is only -7.5 for New England. New England will need to silence the naysayers going into week ten to avoid an upset from a Broncos team that desperately needs a win to stay relevant.

The Patriots and Broncos will kick off at 7:30 EST on Sunday night.

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