The offensive line was set, but still rotated
Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon played 83 snaps (100%) at left and right tackle. Bryan Stork played 83 snaps at center. Shaq Mason and Josh Kline both played 83 snaps as well, with Mason receiving the start at right guard. The coaching staff flipped the two halfway through the game when Kline was getting beaten on a regular basis by every single Broncos defensive lineman. It's possible that Kline's shoulder injury was worse than reported, but he probably would've been benched for Tre Jackson if the rookie were available.
James White led the running backs
White (57, 69%) was a big part of the Patriots offense, although they didn't really give him many opportunities until late in the 4th quarter with some big shots down the field. Brandon Bolden (16, 19%) actually saw the next most opportunities, while Steven Jackson (11, 13%) brought up the rear. Running back will absolutely have to be addressed over the offseason.
Brandon LaFell pushed way down the depth chart
Julian Edelman (80, 96%) played the bulk of the game, but seems to have reinjured his foot (hence his low productivity). Keshawn Martin (59, 71%) was actually the team's next leading receiver, which is not a good sign for the state of the position. Danny Amendola (55, 66%) lined up in the slot, while Brandon LaFell (33, 40%) brought up the rear. It will be interesting to see LaFell's role change over the offseason. LaFell didn't receive a single target on the day.
Where was Michael Williams?
Tight end Rob Gronkowski played 75 snaps (90%), but was limited by a cramp. Eight of Scott Chandler's snaps (9, 11%) came with Gronk on the sideline, and the other came on the kneeldown before the half. Chandler was a huge part of the Patriots offense in week 12, so it was curious to see why he wasn't included; maybe his knee injury is serious, or maybe he was with LaFell in the dog house. Williams only played 16 snaps (19%), which is unacceptable when the team is leaking pressure on every snap.
The secondary was lights out
Other than the opening drive, which was more on the coaching decisions, and a miraculous Emmanuel Sanders grab over Malcolm Butler, the Patriots secondary was fantastic. Safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty (68, 100%) were ironmen, as were cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan. Justin Coleman (43, 63%) saw plenty of time in the slot, while safety Duron Harmon (34, 50%) helped out at safety.
The linebackers need to get healthy
It's never a good sign when the Patriots don't have their linebackers on the field. Dont'a Hightower (56, 82%) and Jamie Collins (53, 78%) couldn't play the entire time, as Jonathan Freeny (21, 31%) came on as a sub. The numbers also point to multiple plays where the Patriots only used one linebacker. The New England defense was outstanding, but it could have been even better if the linebackers were fully available. The Broncos biggest rushing play- a 30-yard run by C.J. Anderson on 3rd and 1- happened while Collins was on the sideline.
The defensive line rotation was on point
Edge defenders Rob Ninkovich (51, 75%), Jabaal Sheard (47, 69%), and Chandler Jones (46, 68%) did a very good job of setting the edge, although they didn't always generate the necessary pressure to take down Peyton Manning. The interior rotation was equally balanced with Malcom Brown (36, 53%), Alan Branch (35, 51%), and Akiem Hicks (33, 49%) seeing roughly the same amount of time. Sealver Siliga (15, 22%) brought up the rear.
The following players played 15+ snaps on special teams:
Nate Ebner (30), Brandon King (25), Matthew Slater (25), Brandon Bolden (25), Dakoda Watson (24), Jordan Richards (24), Jonathan Freeny (21), Patrick Chung (20), Darius Fleming (19), Devin McCourty (15), Michael Williams (15)