Good Morning, Broncos fans! All week long, we've read conflicting reports out of New England regarding the health/availability of corner Alfonzo Dennard.
The second-year corner was listed as a limited practice participant each day, and is officially questionable for tonight's game.
Jeff Howe and Albert Breer reported that Dennard would be out tonight and perhaps for as long as three weeks, and have stuck with that.
Happy Sunday, friends. I had some time materialize on my calendar yesterday, so I used it to watch the Patriots’ last two games.
In Week 9, they hung a franchise-worst 55 points on the Steelers, and won 55-31, and in Week 11, they lost a hard-fought game to the Panthers, on what was frankly a screwjob call by the officials as the clock expired.
The Steelers game was a clear outlier among a ragged group of offensive performances this season, and everything worked well in that game, as they had for Patriots teams of past years. Against the better Panthers defense, the Patriots had a harder time stringing together the drives they had two weeks earlier.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's 2013 campaign has been a statistical marvel in many senses. From our good friend Chase Stuart:
Of course, you should read Stuart's piece in its entirety.
All signs this week had pointed to Wes Welker making the trip to New England to face his former team.
Indeed, he's listed as probable after participating in full during Friday's practice, but Jack Del Rio says there's no question whether Welker will play.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! New Orleans (9-2) continued the burial of division rival Atlanta (2-9) with a 17-13 road win on Thursday night.
Rob Ryan's defense sacked Matt Ryan five times, and two first-half touchdown passes from Drew Brees proved to be enough to down the reeling Falcons, who have lost five straight games.
His second scoring throw went to Jimmy Graham, whose thunderous TD celebration nearly destroyed a goalpost.
As he's done many times before, Falcons coach Mike Smith wimped out on a late decision, opting for a FG attempt while down four points with just 2.5 minutes remaining.
3TFO: Broncos @ Patriots, Week 12
When these teams met last season, the Patriots’ offense employed an interesting strategy to limit Miller’s effectiveness. Whenever Miller was on the sideline, New England went to a no-huddle offense so that the Broncos could not substitute Miller back into the game. Miller rarely comes off the field, but he played just 65 of 97 snaps that week. The former Aggie was still able to earn a career-best +12.3 grade in his limited snaps, a figure that fully justifies the concern that the Patriots had for him in that game.
Wait, wasn't that game one giant huddle-less blur? Did the Broncos even get the ball that day?
The Manning-Brady Face-off
That’s the reality in trying to compare these two guys, especially knowing what we know about them after all these years: You’re splitting hairs based upon entirely tiny distinctions or mistaking events that happened to them for indications of their talent…Picking one over the other based on their respective accomplishments is an exercise in small samples; identifying a winner based on their respective talents is nitpicking at its finest.
While I appreciate the maturity of this, I still think John Elway was better than Joe Montana, and would have won six Super Bowls with his supporting cast.
Sunday Slate: Analyzing Week 12 Matchups
What is Bill Belichick to do? He prefers to play 2-man coverage concepts, meaning man-to-man across the board with either both safeties up top or with one roving underneath. However, Belichick just watched Peyton Manning hang 27 points on the Chiefs’ man-based defense that he knows is better than his own.
FWIW, the Pats pass defense (9th) isn't that far behind the Chiefs' (5th), at least according to Burke's efficiency data; they're just behind them at intercepting passes, too.
It's the run that New England defense doesn't handle well, ranking fourth worst in the league there (KC is sixth best).
That said, it could be Denver’s defense providing more pressure. In last year’s game, the Pats opened up a 31-7 third-quarter lead, and Manning was sacked just twice, despite having to throw as much as possible to get back in the game. Denver, meanwhile, enjoyed four Brady takedowns. This season, Brady’s 28 sacks are tied for fifth-highest in the league, while Manning has hit the ground just 13 times. Also, watch for running back Stevan Ridley, who gashed Denver’s defense for 151 yards the last time around.
Manning has only attempted 29 more passes than has Brady, so the difference in their sack rates is similar to that of their gross numbers: Peyton has been sacked at a 3.1% rate (bested only by Matthew Stafford's 2.8%), while Brady's hit the turf 6.9% of the time (18th, tie).
It's Brady vs. Manning, and nothing else matters.
So instead of drowning in purple prose or analytics, let’s sit back and let Brady/Manning be. You know the people at Yellowstone who fumble with their cameras to get a perfect picture of the moose instead of watching the moose? We are becoming a whole society of those people. No hype, no frills, no meta-ironic commentary: let’s just watch two of the greatest players ever, while they are still here.
Obviously, Tanier's right, because nothing in sports is better than Manning versus Brady. As for the advanced metrics, they offer more of a dead heat than might be expected.