Editor’s note: The Broncos at Patriots Week 5 game has been rescheduled to 11 a.m. MST next Sunday.
The year 2020 has been all about the different and the new.
So it’s fitting that the Denver Broncos (1-3) will continue that theme this Sunday against the New England Patriots (2-2).
For the first time in 20 years, the Broncos will face New England sans quarterback Tom Brady. In fact, Denver already played Brady this season in a 28-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Broncos will look to get a different result next Sunday in Foxborough. The game was rescheduled for the second time by the NFL due to another positive COVID-19 test by the Patriots. The previous week is now considered Denver’s bye week. Here is the updated Broncos’ schedule.
What could help is the 37-28 win Denver got over the New York Jets last Thursday.
That is the first win of the 2020 season for the Broncos and may have given them some much-needed confidence. It’s incredible what the first taste of victory can do for a team.
Even a team that has experienced a rash of injuries like Denver. That has certainly made betting on the Broncos an adventure, to say the least. And the season is just four games in.
Broncos at Patriots odds
The key question around this game is whether quarterback Cam Newton will play.
Newton tested positive for COVID-19 last week and did not play for New England in its 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, it appears Newton could be on track to play on Sunday against the Broncos. Pro Football Talk reported on Tuesday that Newton is asymptomatic, and if he tests negative two times this week separated by at least 24 hours and is cleared by the team doctor, he could play.
But as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Tuesday, Newton is a “longshot” to play on Sunday.
The fact that Denver is still such a heavy underdog despite the uncertainty around Newton says a lot about what the books think about the current state of the Broncos.
New England’s defense could be a problem
That’s no doubt due to Bill Belichick.
While it’s certainly weird that a No. 12 won’t be behind center for the Patriots, the hoodie is still there, casting a cutoff shadow.
Given what Belichick’s defense just did to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, it’s no wonder the books like New England big time on Sunday.
The Patriots defense held Kansas City to only 19 offensive points. That is the second-fewest the Chiefs have scored since Mahomes became the starting quarterback to begin the 2018 season.
New England also held the Chiefs offense without a first-half touchdown for just the third time in the Mahomes era. The other two instances also came against the Patriots in the 2018 regular season and 2018 AFC Championship game.
Now Belichick and New England’s defense face a quarterback in Brett Rypien, who will (likely) make his second NFL start and is on the heels of a three-interception game. Drew Lock is still recovering from his shoulder injury and is 50/50 to play on Sunday, as Denver head coach Vic Fangio told the media last week.
Rypien’s second act
The good news for the Colorado betting market is the Broncos still won that game. While the picks are an issue, Rypien was able to correct and learn from them in the game. We saw that with his decisions and throws late in the fourth quarter.
Plus, he’ll also get the full week to practice. Remember, Rypien and Denver didn’t get much, if any, practice before the Jets game since it was a short week.
Now with a start and win under his belt, Rypien can work with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to correct some of those issues from Thursday night.
They’ll also need that time to devise an offensive plan to combat a Patriots defense that just held the high-powered Mahomes machine in check.
There’s also the added element of a Newton return, even if it is a longshot.
Who knows how the Monday night game unfolds if he’s the quarterback at Arrowhead Stadium and not the combination of Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham.
In terms of the Broncos, Fangio (who calls the defense) will have to plan for all three quarterbacks.
Come Sunday, it’ll no doubt be different, new and weird not to see Brady at quarterback for the Patriots.
But the constant is Belichick and how much of a challenge New England will pose to the Broncos.
At least, in this instance of 2020, some things never change.