We spoke with Sadaraine of MileHighReport.com to get the inside scoop on Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos.
1. Trevor Siemian has certainly connected with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Do you think he's the solution at quarterback and are there any other threats in the Denver offense?
He's the solution this year and he's a young player that his showing improvements in his game as the season wears on. That's all you can really ask from a 7th round draft pick in his 2nd year who's seeing his first season of real football. The QB situation at Denver is always a hot topic and even with two super young QBs on the team, this year is not exception.
I do think Denver has a better chance to win a football game in 2016 with him rather than a young rookie in Paxton Lynch. That being said, his game has many holes (accuracy, too many check-downs, not throwing to the sticks on 3rd downs, leadership).
As far as other threats go, I'd point to our recent acquisition of both Justin Forsett and A.J. Derby.
Forsett looked better than any of our recent running backs even after a fumble on his first carry. He could give our running game a much needed lift and his familiarity with Kubiak's offense has made him literally plug and play (which is very fortunate for the Broncos).
A.J. Derby has come in and been the most productive pass catching TE we've had on the team this year. He's got a bright future from the looks of it and each week has seen more and more targets. I'm always wary of trades with the Pats since Belichick does such a superb job with normally getting the best out of them, but I think this was a pretty darn good trade for Denver in 2016.
2. Devontae Booker hasn't been as productive as C.J. Anderson in his opportunities, but Gary Kubiak's stretch run offense always gives the Patriots problems. Beyond the box score, how has Booker looked this year?
He's a rookie who isn't ready to be a bell cow. He looked pretty promising early this year, but as the season has wore on, his game has grown more lackluster. He has trouble breaking arm tackles and doesn't have as much burst as I would like to see from a back. I do think it is possible he'll benefit from going back to relief duty behind Forsett.
3. How has the Broncos offensive line performed this year?
It is honestly an insult to NFL football as far as run blocking goes. Look no further for any reason as to why our offense looks so poor this year. We haven't been able to establish anything resembling a run game and that has thrown everything sideways for the offense. It has led to us putting the games on the shoulders of a young QB, the defense getting worn down as the game goes on due to too many 3 and outs, and led to very little first half productivity.
The plus side is that the pass blocking has gotten better in the past few weeks. It isn't great by any stretch, but it is good enough for Siemian to be average over 300 yards the past few weeks.
4. The Denver defensive front 7 isn't the same as in 2015, especially up the middle at defensive tackle and linebacker. Who are the weak links the Patriots should know about? Also, is either starting linebacker in jeopardy to miss the game
Your team is going to dial in on Jared Crick early and often. He's one of those linemen that has good pass rush ability, but is a liability against the run. I've seen some improvement from him as the season has wore on, but the left side of the offense is where you will be running the ball early and often and I expect to see the Pats have good success there.
The other weak link in the run game is our NT Sylvester Williams. He's not nearly as big of a liability as Crick, but his play against the run is mediocre and helps lead teams to run towards that left side of the line in the gap between these two players.
Brandon Marshall is one dinged up linebacker. He's a helluva football player and will do his best to be on the field, but it is very likely he misses this game. The good thing is that our injuries at linebacker gave a shot to Zaire Anderson last week who was my favorite ILB coming out of the preseason not named Marshall. He looked very good and filled in well so hopefully the defense won't lack much in the middle of the field.
5. The Broncos secondary is the best in the NFL and it's not even close. Has any passing attack given them problems this year and, if so, how did they do it?
Atlanta gave us a pretty darn impressive challenge. They didn't do it with WRs though. Instead they motioned backs out into the flat and threw to them and the tight ends when matched up on our ILBs and safeties. It is a strategy that has worked for several teams with some measure of success and while the team has done better defending it, I expect Brady to test this weakness and possibly exploit it as you have to expect he isn't going to waste time trying to throw on Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib.