Looks like we won't get to see football's greatest rivalry this Sunday. You know, the one between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady?
While an injured Manning sits out, a Broncos victory rests on the shoulders of Brock Osweiler. While the Broncos hold a three-game lead in the AFC West, it will take every ounce of strength and smarts from Osweiler and the league’s best defense to hold off the 10-0 Patriots.
Denver has survived Manning's league-high interceptions and 67.6 passer rating because of their undeniably strong defense and Osweiler’s quality play when they needed it most. A high percentage of fans are unforgiving of Manning, despite all he has done for Denver in the past, for football in general, and for the public.
But maybe it's a good thing that the Broncos are sitting him out for their battle against the Patriots, and bringing in a still-fresh Osweiler, straight off a win in his first game as a starter. It could throw New England right off. After all, they know Manning’s style, but their only taste of Osweiler was back in 2013 when then coach John Fox attempted to use the 6’8" quarterback to block a field goal.
With two touchdowns and the building of the offense’s first turnover-free performance this season, plus completing 20 of 27 passes for 250 yards, we can be fairly confident in Osweiler. Hopefully, this confidence won't be misplaced. After all, it was a close 17-15 win against a 4-6 Chicago. The Patriots are lethal at full health, and still strong with 11 injuries. They'll be missing Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola, but they've proven they can still win without these key figures. Even if we don't want to admit it. Denver’s receiver group will be in full strength with Emmanuel Sanders returning from a sprained ankle.
While many Broncos fans are singing Osweiler’s praises, he's grateful for the four seasons he spent shadowing the NFL’s leader in passing yards and touchdown passes (and just about everything else). "I fully recognize he might be the greatest quarterback to ever play… I've been very appreciative for my situation". Well, at least he appreciates Manning…
The Patriots steamrolled the Broncos last November, 43-21, but they lost the last time they were in Denver. Brady is 11-5 all-time against Manning, and is still excelling in his 16th season. A disturbing fact for all non-Patriots, not just the Broncos. Let's see how he fares against Osweiler.