Peyton Manning and the Broncos proved they can duke it out with the other big boys in the NFL against the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Manning, however, was not his usual self. He only managed to throw one touchdown after throwing a combined eight in his previous two starts. That's not a knock on him -- he's dealing with an ankle injury and the Chiefs defense is really good.
Manning's top target this week will no doubt be Demaryius Thomas. Kansas City held Thomas out of the end zone for the first time in a month last week. Thomas was targeted 13 times in the game, he just didn't have his usual impact. The Patriots will no doubt put Aqib Talib on him, but Thomas should still get his share of action on Sunday.
New England Patriots
The Patriots haven't shied away from shootout affairs lately and Sunday's game against Denver should be another one. Tom Brady was shut down by the Carolina Panthers last week and hurt his right shoulder in the game. He's still going to start against the Broncos and his teammates will need all the touchdowns they can get from him. The good news is Brady was huge against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10, throwing for four touchdowns and 432 passing yards.
One thing that might help Brady on Sunday is that the Patriots now have their running game hierarchy intact. Shane Vereen is back from injury and handled a ton of the pass-catching duties for the team last week, while Stevan Ridley handles the carries. Vereen was generally perceived to have the upper hand on the No. 1 job coming out of training camp. It remains to be seen if the ball distribution will start to shift in Week 12.