The Pa­tri­ots

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

New Eng­land at Den­ver, 2:25 p.m. Sun­day, KCNC-4 For the record: The Pa­tri­ots (11-2) held off a sec­ond­half rally by the Bal­ti­more Ravens to be­come the sec­ond team in the NFL to reach 11 vic­to­ries, join­ing the Dal­las Cow­boys. They can clinch the AFC East ti­tle and a first-round play­off bye with a win over the Bron­cos. Who’s hot: Tom Brady. At 39, the same age as Pey­ton Man­ning in his fi­nal sea­son last year, Brady is surg­ing. On long passes of 15 or more yards, Brady has a 55 per­cent com­ple­tion per­cent­age — his best mark on long passes in the past 10 years, ac­cord­ing to ESPN stats. Who’s not: Pa­tri­ots’ sec­ondary. If there’s an av­enue to ex­cel for the Bron­cos’ of­fense, it might be passing against New Eng­land. Trevor Siemian threw for 334 yards against Ten­nessee while the Bron­cos rushed for just 18 yards. The Pats’ rush de­fense is nearly as good as the Ti­tans. But their pass de­fense ranks 15th, with 19 touch­downs al­lowed and eight in­ter­cep­tions (Den­ver’s No. 1-ranked pass de­fense has 10 TDs against and 12 INTs). Key stat: 5-6.Brady on Mon­day raised his home record to 100-17, the quick­est quar­ter­back to reach 100 wins at home in NFL his­tory, ac­cord­ing to ESPN. On the road, he is 80-37. And against the Bron­cos specif­i­cally, he is 5-6 in his ca­reer. Den­ver is one of only two teams with a win­ning record against him (Seat­tle is 2-1). FYI: The Pa­tri­ots rank 30th in the NFL on punt re­turns, av­er­ag­ing just 5.1 yards per re­turn. Their re­turner, rookie Cyrus Jones, has five fum­bles in nine games. And coach Bill Belichick on Tues­day re­fused to com­mit to Jones as their re­turner Sun­day in Den­ver. Against the Bron­cos: Den­ver swept two games against the Pa­tri­ots last sea­son, win­ning 30-24 in over­time in Week 12 and 20-18 in the AFC cham­pi­onship game, both in Den­ver. The Bron­cos have won three in a row at home against the Pa­tri­ots — and they are 7-3 against New Eng­land in Den­ver since 2000. They said it: “I’ve al­ready spo­ken my piece on that. I have a short week to get ready for a great op­po­nent. I’m fo­cused on the Bron­cos. I know there are a lot of things go­ing on out there, but my fo­cus and my at­ten­tion is go­ing to stay right here in the build­ing.” — Josh McDaniels, Pa­tri­ots of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, on his in­ter­est in the va­cant Los An­ge­les Rams coach­ing job

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