The Patriots (2-2) saw several key players test positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, including starting quarterback Cam Newton and star cornerback Stephon Gilmore, a.k.a. the former league MVP and reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
Earlier this week, the Broncos (1-3) suffered a potential setback when starting running back Melvin Gordon was cited for driving under the influence (DUI). Gordon's status for Sunday was up in the air as of Wednesday evening.
Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots Head to Head
The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have met each other 53 times in the past. Denver currently has a big lead in the series with a 30-23 record.
The teams last faced each other in 2017, when the Patriots won at Denver in easy fashion, 41-16. But that was, of course, during the Tom Brady era. Despite the familiar face of coach Bill Belichick on the New England sideline, this is a very different Patriots team.
Denver Broncos form guide in the league: L L L W
New England Patriots form guide in the league: W L W L
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Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots Team News
The biggest news for the Patriots came on Wednesday morning, when it was announced that Cam Newton would be returning to practice after being cleared of COVID. While Newton was out of the lineup, Belichick had to use quarterbacks Brian Hoyer (who was benched for poor performance against the Kansas City Chiefs) and Jarrett Stidham.
The same goes for Broncos' QB Drew Lock, who has returned to practice this week after missing time with a shoulder injury. This is certainly a good sign for him to be the starter against New England. When Lock was out, the team went with Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien under center.
Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots Projected Starters
QB: Drew Lock
RB: Melvin Gordon III (Q), Phillip Lindsay
WR: Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler (Q)
TE: Noah Fant (Q), Jake Butt
New England Patriots:
QB: Cam Newton
RB: Damien Harris
WR: Julian Edelman (Q), N'Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd
TE: Ryan Izzo
Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots Prediction
With Cam Newton returning for the Patriots, it certainly gives the Patriots a big boost on the offensive side of the ball. While they currently sit at second place in the AFC East, the team clearly did not perform well with Newton sidelined.
Numbers may not do justice for what Newton has been doing, considering he has been out of football for quite some time prior. The fact that several teams passed on Newton in the offseason also must be fueling his hunger to perform well. Having another hurdle thrown his way due to COVID must be further pushing him to light the Broncos defense on fire.
As for the Broncos, they are already hurting severely on both sides of the ball. While Rypien played alright with the time he had, the Broncos still have to see if Lock is the future of this team. For now, the organization is behind Lock until further notice.
Prediction: Patriots win in an effort led by Newton.
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