Broncos vs. Patriots: Three Players to Watch and the Most Intriguing Matchups

The uncertainty involved in the Week 5 clash is at an all-time high. Whether it be Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore testing positive for COVID-19, the Broncos starting quarterback situation, or even the status of the game. With that being said, we’ll do our best to get you ready for Monday’s game. Here are our three Patriots to watch, and the most intriguing matchups for Monday’s game.

Players to Watch

Whoever Starts at Quarterback for the Patriots

At the time of writing, Newton’s status for Week 5 remains uncertain. If Newton is unable to go, we’d prefer to see Jarrett Stidham get the start at quarterback on Monday. Stidham replaced a struggling Brian Hoyer last Monday night against the Chiefs. The performance from Stidham wasn’t great as he went 5/13 with 60 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, however, one of those interceptions was caused by a drop by Julian Edelman. Unfortunately for Stidham, his other interception was completely on him. To make matters worse, the throw should have resulted in a walk-in touchdown for Damiere Byrd but Stidham threw it late.

The reality is that even though Stidham struggled, he still proved more promising than Hoyer. Hoyer had two crucial mental mistakes in the red zone that cost the Patriots at least six points. That’s in addition to the interception he threw. The quarterback play was all-around bad, but the one bright spot was Stidham’s touchdown pass to N’Keal Harry.

Ultimately, the best-case scenario would be getting Newton back out on the field. Newton is crucial to the offense’s success and that became even clearer last Monday night. The quarterback situation will be one to monitor as the week goes on.

Julian Edelman

It’s been an up and down year thus far for Edelman. Edelman had a career-high in a single game receiving yards in Week 2, but he has struggled with drops at an alarming rate. He recorded two drops last week in Kansas City, one of which led to a pick-six.

Diving deeper into the up and down season for Edelman and it becomes clear 2020 has been a tale of two halves. In Weeks 1-2 Edelman had 13 catches for 236 yards. In Weeks 3-4 Edelman only had 5 catches for 58 yards. Sure the game-plan varies from week to week, but that’s a notable drop-off.

Only time will tell, but we have a feeling Edelman bounces back strong after a rough game. The Patriots offense doesn’t have enough weapons to consistently survive an ineffective Edelman, especially in close game situations. That being said, it wouldn’t be smart to doubt Edelman. He’ll be back.

J.C. Jackson

If Gilmore is unable to go on Monday, it will be our first time seeing J.C. Jackson in the number one corner role. Ironically, on a majority of the teams around the league, Jackson would have already been the number one corner, but of course, the New England secondary has been among the deepest in football for a couple of years.

If Jackson is indeed the number one corner for Monday’s game, he’ll likely go up against third-year wideout Tim Patrick. Patrick serves as the Bronco’s boundary receiver while rookie Jerry Jeudy has played primarily in the slot. Patrick is having a breakout season with 16 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns through four games. Even though Patrick has played well, Jackson still holds the advantage. Jackson has been great in coverage once again this season, as he’s only allowed 10 catches. Jackson also has one interception which came against the Dolphins in Week 1.

Even if Gilmore were to play, which seems unlikely, Jackson is still a player to watch this Monday.

Key Matchups

Patriots Run Defense vs. Broncos Run Game

It feels like the Broncos best shot to move the ball Monday is via the ground game. Throw a young quarterback into the equation and we think we’ll see a ground-heavy approach for Denver. It’s also notable that Phillip Lindsay will likely be active after missing the last three games with an injury. This gives the Broncos a nice 1-2 punch in Melvin Gordon and Lindsay.

The good news for New England is that even though the Broncos have a good running back duo, their interior offensive line play hasn’t been great. In particular, rookie center, Lloyd Cushenberry III is someone the Patriots can exploit. Lawrence Guy should be able to have a big game on Monday.

Bill Belichick’s Gameplan vs. Drew Lock or Brett Rypien

Bill Belichick is notorious for drawing up a gameplan to shut down young quarterbacks, especially in Gillette Stadium, and he’ll get another shot this mONDAY. Whether it be Drew Lock coming back from injury or replacement Brett Rypien, they are both only second-year pros with very limited starting experience.

It feels like we’ve seen this story multiple times before: A young quarterback comes into Gillette Stadium and Belichick confuses the young quarterback by dialing up multiple different coverage looks and blitz packages. It will be very intriguing to see what Belichick, a defensive mastermind, has in store for Monday afternoon.

Patriots O-Line Containing Bradley Chubb and Shelby Harris

The Broncos have faced major injuries across the defensive line but they still have two major players in Bradley Chubb and Shelby Harris. Chubb, an edge rusher, had a 12-sack rookie season in 2018 but missed most of the 2019 season with an injury. He’s back now and he’s played good. Chubb has 11 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and 8 quarterback hits. Meanwhile, Harris, who plays on the interior, has 13 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 6 quarterback hits. Both Chubb and Harris are good against the run and in the pass rush. If you’re still wondering what the Patriots are up against look no further than the Broncos/Jets game. Watch Harris (#96) make a great move against the guard forcing Sam Darnold off his spot and Chubb (#55) fighting around the edge to finish with the sack.

The good news for New England is that their offensive line is one of the best in football. You could also make an argument that rookie guard Michael Onwenu, who started the season as a backup, has been the best offensive rookie in football so far. Yes, he’s been that good. One lineman that the Patriots would really like to get back is Shaq Mason. Mason missed Monday’s matchup against the Chiefs.

Ultimately, the key for the offensive line should be slowing Chubb and Harris. That’s no disrespect to the rest of the Denver defensive line either, they’ve got some solid complementary pieces, but if New England can neutralize the Chubb/Harris combo then they’ve got a great shot to continue their dominant rushing attack.

Let us know your thoughts on the Broncos/Patriots Week 5 battle!

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