The Denver versus New England match-up offers another chapter in the Brady v. Manning saga, and even with a Brady loss this weekend, the Patriots’ quarterback has dominated the head to head match-up between the future Hall of Famers.
There are a couple of things going for the Patriots. The Denver defense is beat up, missing both Chris Harris and Von Miller. Additionally, Tom Brady has won every contest in which he has faced a Jack Del Rio led defense. The emergence of LaGarrette Blount gives the Patriots a lethal offensive weapon, and potentially opens up the play action passing attack to the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, and the cast of rookie receivers.
But there is far more in Denver’s favor. First, no team has suffered greater season-ending injuries this season, and nearly a quarter of the Patriots’ salary is currently on injured reserve. That includes the entire interior defensive front seven in Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Vince Wilfork, and Tommy Kelly. The Patriots’ have done more with undrafted rookie free agents than any other team in the league, but there is only so much that a team can do to fill the void. In all likelihood, Manning and the Broncos running attack will combine to rack up huge numbers on the day and end the Patriots’ run, a season which has exceeded all reasonable expectations.
This game has the feel of the 2006 AFC Championship, when the Patriots got a big first half lead on Manning and the Colts, but ultimately were doomed by a banged up and tired defense as Manning brought the Colts back en route to the Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears. I expect this game to go much the same way, with the Patriots being competitive in the first half, but falling behind as the third quarter wears on. My predicted score is Colts 34 Patriots 24.
Pay no attention to the fact that I am picking the Patriots this week in our picks contest; that is simply a desperate calculation to try and catch up with Fat Jesus in our standings.
On the NFC side, the Seahawks have a great home field advantage, and have easily handled the 49ers in the last two encounters in Seattle. Colin Kaepernick is struggling in the pocket, and the Seattle defense is likely to make it a long day for the third year quarterback. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson can be counted on to provide enough offense to dismiss San Francisco once again. Look for a 30-17 contest in favor of the Seahawks.
Here are our collective picks for the weekend:
|Writer||NE @ DEN||SF @ SEA|
Here are the standings with only three games to go:
|Like Gandhi, But Taller||161||104||16|
|Guest Quarter (coin flip)||130||135||47|