BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots travel to Denver this weekend for a matchup with the 8-5 Broncos, as they look to clinch both the AFC East and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Playing in Denver has never been very kind to the Patriots, but they’ll look to buck that trend on Sunday afternoon. Here’s what the WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio and 98.5 The Sports Hub teams think will happen in Sunday’s game:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
The Patriots know exactly what is at stake. A win in Denver and they get their eighth division title (they can clinch that with a Miami loss on Saturday night) and a first-round bye.
The Pats must protect Tom Brady. They didn’t last year in the AFC Championship Game, and it cost them. The offensive line has been solid this season, which means Brady should have time to pick the Broncos’ secondary apart. But they have to know where Von Miller is at all times. He’s a game-changer in the Denver pass rush.
The Patriots confidence is sky-high, and Mile High shouldn’t be a problem this time around.
Patriots 24, Broncos 17
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
This is another great test for the Pats, after they passed Monday night with a solid B and, more importantly, came away with a W.
New England’s defense played arguably its best game of the season against Baltimore, and they’ll need to be just as good again on Sunday. The Broncos are banged up in many areas but, but they still have Von Miller to try to get in the head of Tom Brady.
I think this is a game where the Pats find a way to win and stay undefeated on the road.
Patriots 27, Broncos 23
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
So it finally seems the Pats have the perfect remedy to get a win in Denver. They have a stout running game, they have a deep threat in Chris Hogan and the Broncos aren’t playing that well.
Tom Brady struggles in Denver and he simply struggles against the Broncos. They are the only team he has a losing record against but I think this game is just like last week. The Pats made mistakes, which kept Baltimore in the game. If you look at it though, they were just better than the Ravens.
New England doesn’t have to play mistake free football on Sunday; they just have to play better than the Broncos and I think they will.
Patriots 30, Broncos 13
Adam Kaufman, WBZ NewsRadio 1030/98.5 The Sports Hub
We all know the Patriots have lost three straight trips to Denver. Tom Brady’s 2-7 lifetime in the Mile High City. And, of course, the Pats are still banged up.
Doesn’t matter. Unlike in last year’s AFC Championship Game, New England’s better equipped to win in Denver this time around. There’s more experience and better coaching with regard to the offensive line, Brady’s chemistry with his pass-catchers is as good as it’s been when Rob Gronkowski’s unavailable, and the run-game is stout. LeGarrette Blount’s having a career-year, the entire backfield is healthy, and the Broncos are one of the worst teams against the run in the NFL.
The Broncos have a dominant secondary, so this feels like a game the Patriots will lean on the ground-game. That should be enough to win, so long as they can also keep the football OFF the ground on returns. Don’t be surprised if Cyrus Jones is inactive and either Julian Edelman or Patrick Chung demonstrate expert fair catch or PETER!! skills.
AFC East Champs 24, Broncos 13
Mike “Sarge” Riley, 98.5 The Sports Hub/WBZ NewsRadio 1030
If you had asked me a year ago for this specific week if the Patriots had a shot in Denver I would have laughed at you. Yes, short week but the Patriots are more healthier (knock on wood) now than at this time last year. Tom Brady stays hot in the Denver cold and the Patriots win another dog fight.
Patriots 23, Broncos 21
Tune in to Patriots-Broncos on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning on WBZ with Patriots GameDay at 11:30 a.m. and Patriots 5th Quarter will wrap it all up on myTV38 following the game. Coverage begins on 98.5FM with Patriots Preview at 1:30 p.m. with three hours of postgame coverage following the game. After Patriots coverage, tune in to “Rough Injustice: The 1976 New England Patriots” on 98.5 The Sports Hub!