Thanks to Mile High Report for taking the time to answer some of our questions for this upcoming game.
1. How have the Broncos been able to compensate for the loss of Von Miller?
Losing a guy like Von Miller really hurts and there's no way around that. Surprisingly though, the Broncos got to Phillip Rivers four times last week. The other pass rushers they have on the roster have stepped up in his wake. Shaun Phillips had two sacks last week and Malik Jackson and Jeremy Mincey notched the other two. Jeremy Mincey is a guy wasn't around for the first match up. Mincey was released by Jacksonville towards the end of the season, and he has contributed almost instantly.
The Broncos have also changed their personnel look a little bit when it comes to the active roster. There were six linebackers activated for the Charger game, which is more than usual for Denver.
2. Julius Thomas wasn't available in the first match-up. What does he bring to the offense and how can the Patriots try to attack him?
Well if you watched the end of the game against San Diego, you probably noticed how instrumental Julius Thomas is to the Denver offense. Thomas is the missing piece of the puzzle to the Broncos offense last year. Wes Welker has been clutch on third downs, but so has Thomas. As a former basketball player, he's able to control his body so well to get the proper placement for the catch. It almost gets obnoxious to hear every announcer bring up the "boxing out" analogy every week.
The Patriots can attack him be exploiting his inexperience. As great as a player as Thomas is, he is still very raw. Whether its a false start or just not looking back for the ball when it's being thrown to him, Thomas is prone to make some mistakes. Thomas is also very raw in run blocking. Opposing defenses have been able to handle him pretty well when it comes to obvious running situations.
3. Knowshon absolutely demolished the Patriots in the last game. How has the Broncos running game been operating since then?
Many fans believe that Moreno is the second MVP of the offense this year. He has ran with authority up the middle and he's been dangerous in the screen game. The running game has been a pleasant surprise this year. Since the last Patriots game it has remained very productive. There have been a few times, mainly the Chargers loss, when the run game wasn't established and it hurt the Broncos. However, there were a lot of other problems in that Charger loss.
Montee Ball has had his fumbling problems this season, but when he isn't putting the ball on the ground he has been very effective. Together Moreno and Ball make a great tandem. When they both can get going without any turnovers, they make the Broncos' offense very dangerous.
4. John Fox also wasn't available- what does he bring to the game day coaching?
John Fox is phenomenal at making second half adjustments. It was very evident that this was the skill of Fox when he was out. The Patriot loss was an absolute meltdown in the second half. The Broncos sorely missed the coaching of John Fox in that game. In Fox's first game back on the sidelines this year the team struggled against the Titans at home. Even with a record breaking 65 yard field goal to end the half, the Broncos still trailed 21-20. The second half was a completely different story. With 31 points scored in the second half, the Broncos turned a close game into an absolute slaughter.
5. How should the Patriots try to attack the Broncos D if they want to have more success than last time?
Forget the run game. Yes, the Patriots absolutely gashed the Colts with running the ball, but that isn't the answer with Denver. The Broncos are very susceptible in their secondary, especially with the loss of Chris Harris. Belichick knows this. I expect to see a lot of shifty Edelman routes. Shane Vereen, who is an absolute frustration on third down, should also see a lot of action against Denver in the passing game. Backs like Vereen are kryptonite to Denver on short and third.
Even though the Patriots were insanely successful against the run last week, it wouldn't surprise me in the bit to see them reverse their game plan this week. Belicheck is crafty and works hard to exploit weaknesses rather bring the same game-plan week in and out.