Broncos vs. Patriots Odds

One of the most anticipated games of the weekend is the matchup between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.  The real matchup that fans care about is Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady.  It is a game that many expected to see last year in the post season, but we were never given that opportunity.  It is every bit as meaningful this year with the Broncos fighting to keep their division lead over the Chiefs, and New England trying to keep a two game lead over the Jets and Dolphins.

The Patriots have losses against Cincinnati, the Jets and Carolina this season, but all of those games have been played on the road.  This week they will play host to the Broncos, a place where they have a perfect 5-0 record.  Denver's lone loss this season was also on the road, in an emotional game for quarterback Peyton Manning as it was his first appearance back in Indianapolis after leaving the team.

Kick-off for this exciting AFC showdown takes place on Sunday at 8:30 PM ET with television coverage being provided by NBC.  The oddsmakers have favored the Broncos by 2.5-points in this game, and the total has been set at 54.5-points.

Why Denver Covers

The Denver Broncos have the best offense in the NFL.  They are averaging 39.8 points per game this season, gaining over 100 yards rushing on average, and throwing for 350 yards per game.  Peyton Manning is completing just shy of 70% of his pass attempts.  He has thrown 34 touchdowns to just six interceptions and has over 3,500 passing yards.  Manning's mobility in the pocket was a big concern prior to the start of the season, and it became even  more of a concern after Manning suffered an angle injury in Denver's matchup with the Chargers.  It does not appear to be an issue because Manning was never really under any pressure against the Chiefs, and Kansas City's defensive line features one of the best pass rushing units in the league.

The Denver Broncos are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games.

Defensively I believe the Broncos are a lot better than they get credit for.  They have given up an average of 25.5 points per game this year, but a big reason for allowing so many points has been because the offense secures large comfortable leads.  They play soft late in the game, and that has afforded their opponents more points than they have actually "earned."  If you look at yards per play allowed, Denver is a very solid team.  They are giving up just 3.3 yards per carry against the run, holding oppsing backs to an average of just 82 rushing yards per game.  The secondary has been torched for some big yardage, but again, teams are forced to throw early and often against Denver because they fall behind big early in the game.

Why New England Covers

The New England Patriots have been lucky to get to a 703 record this year.  They have been involved in some very close games that they probably should have lost if not for catching a few lucky breaks.  They did not catch the break they needed last week against Carolina, but overall the team played extremely well.  They are averaging 140 rushing yards per game at home, gaining 4.3 yards per carry.  Tom Brady is not completing as many passes as he has in the past, but his 2,500 yards and a 14:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio is rivaled by many quarterbacks in the league.

The New England Patriots are 30-12-1 ATS in their last 43 games following a straight-up loss.

Defensively the Patriots are a very solid team.  They are holding opponents to 19.9 points per game overall, and when playing at home they have given up a mere 17.6 points per game.  The secondary has been hard to beat, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 56.3% pass completion rate for 229 yards.  They will have their biggest test of the season this week when they take on Peyton Manning.  Denver has a wealth of quality receivers, but I like the matchup advantages going in favor of this New England secondary.  Aqib Talib should have no problem shutting down Demaryius Thomas, and Manning's second favorite target Wes Welker should struggle against his former teammates.  That leaves Eric Decker to carry the load, and Decker may be one of the most overrated receivers in Denver's lineup.  He has two fumbles this season, and is not a big play receiver like the threat D. Thomas brings to the table.

My Pick

It is hard to pick against the Broncos, but I have to go with the Patriots getting the points in this game.  The New England fan base should be a little extra fired up with Peyton Manning in town, and with their Patriots coming off a loss I think Gillette Stadium will be an extremely tough place to play.  The Patriots have a lot of young players, and the dropped balls and communication on routes seems to be a problem of the past.  Take the points, but I expect New England to win this game in a close one.