The Sunday Night Football on Christmas Eve sees the attention turning to the race for the AFC wildcards as the Denver Broncos welcome the New England Patriots to Colorado for a clash which probably looked much better when it was selected than now.
The Broncos can still make the postseason but they are probably going to need to win their last three matches to get in. The Patriots have been out of contention for a while and have the role of spoiling the party.
Just when the Denver Broncos had got themselves deep into wildcard contention, they took a bit of a battering at the hands of the Detroit Lions and with other teams having won both last weekend and already in this week it has heightened the size of their task to extend their season. The good thing for the Broncos is that their last three matches are all against teams with a losing record and nothing to play for, so they couldn’t have asked for a better schedule to try and win out from.
The Denver defence got gashed last week but the Lions have been doing that all season so that isn’t necessarily the negative that it might have been. The big thing is for that side of the ball to get back on track here and if it does then you would imagine that the Broncos would have the quality on offense to get the job done, especially in these home conditions where the altitude makes it a significant advantage. The Broncos had the extra day than usual to prepare for this too which should help.
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New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have had a season to forget. It never really got going and with them 3-11 for their year the only good that is going to come from it is they are going to be picking early in the draft next year. They are currently the third worst team in the league and it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense for them to bust a gut to improve their standing when you consider that they are going to be under a new head coach next season.
The Patriots have lost six of their last seven matches and in those outings they have scored just 85 points which is a little over a dozen points per game so whoever replaces Bill Belichick at Foxboro at the end of the campaign won’t need to search too far to find out what needs to be improved. The offense just hasn’t come to the party at any stage. To be fair their defence has done its job. In five of those seven matches they have kept their opposition below 20 points.
I don’t normally give points lines under a 40 a second look but I do think it is worth exploring here because the Denver Broncos offense has gone quiet again in the last few weeks even though they have played a couple of defences which you would have thought they would be able to exploit. I don’t expect them to have their own way with a New England Patriots defence which can handle itself, particularly against the run which is how the Broncos like to operate on offense.
The New England offense hasn’t got going at all this season and the Denver defence is generally decent enough and with the cold weather setting in around the Colorado area I find it hard to see where points are going to come readily here. Unless there are a couple of big defensive or special teams plays I think a 37 point line looks on the high side. It isn’t a line I like to play the under on but two fairly low scoring teams can stay under this one.
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