The Patriots will be without three starters against the Broncos including wide receiver Chris Hogan who’s got a shoulder injury while right tackle Marcus Cannon and defensive tackle Malcom Brown are dealing with ankle injuries. With the next man up philosophy in full effect after already losing starters Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower to season ending injuries this is nothing new to the Patriots.
Good news is that the Patriots will most likely be returning both corner backs Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe who have both missed multiple weeks recently. This should provide a big boost to the back end of the defense especially in press-man coverage situations.
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett should have an increased role this game with Chris Hogan out. This will hopefully result in some big plays for the offense and also an increased role moving forward as speed is always a good asse, especially on offense.
With DT Malcom Brown out the Patriots will most likely turn to a veteran one-two punch up the middle with Alan Branch and Lawrence Guy. This is important because the Patriots will need to show they can stop the run and force the Broncos to throw the ball thus relying on quarterback Brock Osweiler which would be preferred. The Broncos will look to get running back CJ Anderson going and keep the ball on the ground, the clock rolling, and the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands.
The Patriots will also be looking to get the run game going on Sunday with the struggling Broncos defense still having Von Miller on the edge to harass the passer along with a very talented secondary. That’s where backup LaAdrian Waddle can hopefully come up big and hold his own in place of Marcus Cannon who will be out. Cannon is an excellent run blocker and was able to hold Von Miller to zero sacks in their last match up. Waddle is a more than capable backup but it is always a tough matchup against Miller.