1. Solve the puzzle
The Patriots have had success against nearly every opponent in the Belichick era, but the Broncos have given them fits. Under Belichick, New England is just 2-6, including playoffs, against Denver. The Broncos beat the Patriots 17-7 in their last meeting, at Gillette Stadium in 2006. They beat New England twice in 2005, both times in Denver, including a 27-13 win in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Patriots beat the Broncos in Denver in 2003 but lost to them in 2001 and 2002. But Belichick's first win as New England head coach came in 2000 against the Broncos. The 28-19 victory in Denver, with Drew Bledsoe at quarterback, boosted the team's record to 1-4.
2. Get into the backfield
Denver has traditionally used a run-oriented approach, allowing numerous backs to share the workload. Head coach Mike Shanahan has altered his offensive game plan this season, with third-year quarterback Jay Cutler emerging as one of the top signal-callers in the NFL. Cutler leads the league in pass attempts per game, is third in passing yards, and is tied for fourth with 12 touchdown passes. One thing that hasn't changed is Denver's superior offensive line play. Cutler has been sacked just twice in six games -- the best ratio in the NFL.
3. Take advantage of the defense
Denver's defense has not matched its offense's prolific performance. The Broncos have allowed 25.7 points per game (24th in the NFL), 393.0 yards (30th), 137.5 rushing yards (26th), and a league-worst 255.5 passing yards per contest. After starting 3-0 and topping 34 points in each game, the Broncos suffered a stunning 33-19 loss to then-winless Kansas City. They bounced back to beat Tampa Bay the following week but are coming off a 24-17 home loss to the Jaguars. Denver (4-2) leads the AFC West.
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This week's OT cover
OT beat writersMaureen Mullen brings you Red Sox information and insights.
Tom Wilcox covers the Patriots.
Scott Souza is all over the Celtics.
Danny Picard is on the ice with the Bruins.
Mike McDonald takes a look at the humorous side of Boston sports