Because of this, Denver has only lost three games this year. Three out of the five lowest point totals from the Denver offense were during those losses. So the key to victory is stopping Payton Manning and their high-powered offense, and scoring on every opportunity possible.
The Patriots have already beat the Broncos once this season—here’s how they can do it again:
1. Force Manning to throw outside the numbers
If you give Payton Manning the middle of the field, he will dominate the game. He is one of the NFL’s most accurate passers off all time, so if the Patriots give him the short pass right in front of him, they won’t be able to get him off the field.
To have any chance against Manning, they will have to take away the easy throws and force him outside. Although he is still dangerously accurate, he doesn’t have the same arm strength as he used to.
This is how they were able to stop Manning in their last meeting. They forced him outside and he completed under 53 percent of his passes in that game. Now, the weather was a lot worse in that game than it will be Sunday, but the same game plan should be applied. The only chance to get Manning off the field is to make him make a mistake. The only chance that will happen is by forcing longer throws outside the numbers by taking away his inside options. If the the Patriots do this effectively, they can force turnovers or have the Broncos use up the downs.
2. Put pressure on the Quarterback
Once again, in order to beat Peyton Manning, the Patriots will have to make Manning’s life difficult. By getting to the quarterback, it will make Manning to have to force throws and hopefully make a mistake. Otherwise, if Manning has time to allow his all-star cast of receivers to get open, the Broncos will score a lot of points.
3. Do not give up big plays
This is probably the most important thing the Patriots will have to do. If the Patriots give up plays for big yardage, it does one of two things: first, it gives the Broncos an opportunity to score in bunches (where they won’t be stopped), and it opens up the field for more short, easy completions for Manning. If the Patriots end up playing the to stop the deep ball, Manning will just tear them up on short passes, eat up the time of possession and tire the defense.
The Patriots cannot get defensive against the Broncos, because that’s when Manning finds a way to win.
4. Use the Clock effectively
The Patriots offense showed a great improvement since the beginning of the season. The biggest reason for this is because they became very good at controlling the tempo. If they do this by running a lot of plays and not allowing Manning to get in control of the game, they will have a very good chance. This means they must not get three-and-outs and turnovers.
The Patriots must generate first downs, find a rhythm and control the tempo. If the Broncos score quickly, do not allow their offense to get on the field right after.
When San Diego held Denver to just 20 points during the regular season, it was because they dominated the clock—almost doubling the Broncos time of possession. The Patriots offense could be the best defense against the Broncos by controlling the tempo of the game and not allowing Denver to get comfortable.