NFL Predictions: Broncos at Patriots Week 12 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/20/2013
Let the hype begin for one of the NFL's best-ever individual rivalries -- and by far the best this century -- as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady face off for the 14th time in their Hall of Fame careers. Like any great rivalry in the U.S.A., this is a bit overhyped, but it's usually must-see TV. That's especially true this year, because who knows how many more times they will face off.
This could be the last in the regular season, although Denver is scheduled to visit New England again next year. After all, Manning is 37 and perhaps one hit to the neck from hanging up the cleats. He's still playing at an incredible level, however, and seems to be a lock to win his fifth NFL MVP Award. Not sure if that number will ever be touched. Brady, a two-time MVP winner, is 36 and has fewer miles on him as he didn't become a starter until 2001 while Manning started from Day 1 in 1998 -- they both missed one season due to injury (Brady hurt in the 2008 opener and Manning all of 2011). Brady's numbers are down this year, although some of that has to be attributed to losing Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez this offseason and Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski to early-season injuries this year.
The Sunday night game should be the highest-rated matchup of the season and probably draw the most betting action thus far as well.
Broncos at Patriots Betting Story Lines
Brady looks for his 10th win over Manning. Seven of the previous 13 have been decided by a touchdown or less. Win No. 1 for Brady over Manning came in Week 3 of 2001, Brady's first career start in which he was just average, but Manning threw three picks, two returned for scores, in a 44-13 New England victory. Last year in Foxboro, Brady faced Manning the Bronco for the first time, and the Patriots won, 31-21. It would be Denver's final regular-season loss of 2012. Manning tends to have better numbers in these matchups, and that was true last year as he threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns while Brady threw for 223 and one. However, New England steamrolled Denver on the ground with 251 rushing yards. Stevan Ridley had one of the best games of his career with 28 carries for 151 yards and a TD.
In the 13 matchups, Manning averages 293.9 yards and has 27 touchdowns, while Brady averages 235.3 yards and has 23 scores. The average score is Brady's Patriots 29.7 and Manning's Colts/Broncos 24.2. While the New England offense is intact for the first time this season -- Gronk and Amendola are healthy, and running back Shane Vereen returned in Monday's loss at Carolina for the first time since Week 1 -- Manning's group has some questions.
Of course, this is the return to New England for Welker, and he will be warmly welcomed. The fans wanted him back, and so did Brady, but the Patriots lowballed him this offseason. Welker is having another stellar season with 61 catches for 648 yards and nine scores. However, he suffered a concussion in Sunday's win over Kansas City and is “questionable”. Brady already has said he expects his good friend to play, and clearly Welker would love to. It all depends on if he passes the NFL's protocol tests. Meanwhile, Denver tight end Julius Thomas sat out the fourth quarter Sunday with a knee injury and is officially day-to-day with a knee strain. He has 45 catches for 590 yards and 10 scores. I think he goes.
This looks like an aerial attack as it is, and both defensive backfields have injury problems. Out for the rest of the regular season is Denver safety Rahim Moore, he of the blown coverage that allowed Baltimore to throw a tying 70-yard touchdown pass in the AFC divisional playoff game last season in the final minute at Denver. Also out for sure is New England cornerback Alfonzo Dennard with a knee injury. He missed Monday's loss and is likely out a few more weeks. New England's best cover guy, Aqib Talib, returned from a hip injury Monday but then aggravated it and had to leave. He's “questionable,” and that would be a huge loss with all the weapons Manning has.
Broncos at Patriots NFL Week 12 Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, Denver is a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 55.5. The Broncos are 6-3-1 ATS (2-2 on road) and 8-2 “over/under” (3-1 on road). The Patriots are 5-5 ATS (4-1 at home) and 4-6 O/U (2-3 at home). Denver is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 November games. The Patriots are 4-1 ATS in their past five after an ATS loss. They are 3-1-1 ATS in their past five playing on a Sunday following a Monday night game. The over is 9-2-1 in Denver's past 12 after an ATS win. The over is 5-1 in the Patriots' past six November games. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over has hit in four of the past five.
NFL Predictions: Broncos at Patriots Betting Picks
Supposedly New England is a home underdog for the first time in eight years. The last time? Against Manning's Colts on Nov. 7, 2005. Indy won that 40-21, Manning's first victory in this rivalry. New England almost never loses at home in the second half of the season and rarely loses back-to-back games anywhere. The Pats can kiss any shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC goodbye with a loss here, while Denver would still be in good position with a loss as it could then reclaim it with a win at Kansas City in Week 13. It sure feels like we will see this matchup again in January, but I like the Pats even with that iffy secondary and on the short week. Take the under as it looks to be cold and windy.
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