Peyton Manning will be reduced to a spectator’s role as the New England Patriots continue their pursuit of a perfect season when they visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday night in a showdown among AFC division leaders. Manning will sit out his second straight game due to a foot injury for the Broncos, who trail New England by two games for the conference’s best record.
“I mean, there’s nobody that has more respect for Peyton than me outside of probably his parents and his brothers,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “He’s been a tremendous player. It’s unfortunate.” New England remained unbeaten despite being held to a season-low point total in Monday night’s 20-13 win over division rival Buffalo. Brock Osweiler made his first career start last week and helped Denver halt a two-game losing streak with a 17-15 victory over Chicago. Osweiler was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after completing 20 of 27 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Broncos as 3.5-pont home dogs, but that’s moved to +2.5. The total is down to 43 from the opening 46.
Patriots – G Tre’ Jackson (Questionable, knee), LB Jamie Collins (Questionable, illness), DB Justin Coleman (Questionable, hand), WR Keshawn Martin (Questionable, hamstring), WR Danny Amendola (Out, knee), WR Julian Edelman (Out indefinitely, foot), WR Brian Tyms (Out indefinitely, foot), WR Aaron Dobson (I-R, ankle), RB Dion Lewis (I-R, knee), OL Ryan Wendell (I-R, knee), LB Rufus Johnson (I-R, illness), CB Tarell Brown (I-R, foot), T Nate Solder (I-R, elbow), LB Dane Fletcher (I-R, knee), DB Darryl Roberts (I-R, wrist), FB James Develin (I-R, shin), WR Brandon Gibson (I-R, knee).
Broncos – WR Emmanuel Sanders (Probable, head), DE Vance Walker (Questionable, shoulder), LB Demarcus Ware (Out, back), QB Peyton Manning (Out, foot), TE Jeff Heuerman (Out for season, knee), T Ty Sambrailo (I-R, shoulder), T Ryan Clady (I-R, knee).
WEATHER: Temperatures expected to be in the low-20s with a 16 percent chance of snow early, but increasing to a 68 percent chance later on.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Patriots (-7) + Broncos (-3) + home field (-3) = Patriots -1
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Patriots remain at the No. 1 spot in my Power Rankings, but their power rating number has been trending downwards due to the barrage of injuries on the offensive side of the ball. It took one drive for Twitter to blow up, calling Brock Osweiler the better QB compared to Peyton Manning. He finished 20-27 for 250 yards and no INT?s in a hostile road environment.” Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (10-0 SU, 5-3-2 ATS, 5-5 O/U): Brady started showing the effects of losing leading receiver Julian Edelman and running back Dion Lewis, completing a season-low 51.3 percent of his passes and failing to throw for multiple touchdowns for the first time. Wide receivers Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson were hurt in the win and are not expected to play, which could force New England to lean on running back LeGarrette Blount against a defense yielding a league-low 190.6 yards passing. The Patriots are allowing a league-best 18.2 points and are second in the league with 32 sacks.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS, 3-6-1 O/U): With starting wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders sidelined, Osweiler made good use of his tight end tandem of Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels, who combined for 10 receptions and 137 yards. Star wideout Demaryius Thomas caught only his second scoring pass of the season, ending a six-game drought, while Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson gave the sagging running game a lift with a combined 161 yards. Denver’s defense not only leads the league with 34 sacks, it also is surrendering the fewest total yards (284.3) and has scored four touchdowns.
* Home team is 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Patriots are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings in Denver.
* Under is 4-0-1 in Broncos last five home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Sixty-four percent of Covers users are backing the Patriots.