Sunday Night Football has another marquee matchup on tap when the New England Patriots host the Denver Broncos. It's the 14th time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will face each other, and the two quarterbacks haven't lost a step despite getting up there in years.
The Broncos move to 9-1 after ending the Chiefs' unbeaten streak. They can get a death grip on homefield advantage in the AFC with a win over the Patriots.
Meet the New England Patriots
The Patriots are coming off one of the most controversial losses of the season, to the Carolina Panthers. On the last play of the game, Brady threw the ball to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, but he appeared to be held by linebacker Luke Kuechley. The officials threw a flag after the play, but decided not to call a pass interference, sealing the win for Carolina.
The Patriots fell to 7-3, but they still sit in first place in the AFC East and are looking to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their players are getting healthy at the right time -- Shane Vereen made his return from a broken wrist and was a big difference maker in last week's game.
Meet the Denver Broncos
Manning and the Broncos keep on rolling, beating the Chiefs, 27-17, to give them their first loss of the season. They are back in first place and have an important divisional tiebreaker in hand. The next step would be to consolidate the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Denver is two games ahead of everyone else in the conference and get to play the Chiefs one more time after this week. Manning remains on a record-setting pace -- he's now up to 34 touchdowns and 3,572 yards in just ten games.
Local Takes: New England Patriots
Alec Shane from Pats Pulpit takes the NFL to task for not admitting that the ref made the wrong call in Monday night's controversial ending:
I could very easily have lived with that. I would have appreciated the admission that a mistake was made and now it's time to move on. Lord knows I make more mistakes in an hour than most people make in a week. But you know what? I own up to them. I admit when I'm wrong, I beg forgiveness when necessary, and I move on with my life. It isn't hard to do, and the NFL isn't above accountability. Just admit it was a bad call and move on to figuring out more ways to make the league less fun to watch -- you guys are already doing a bang-up job with that.
A final congrats to the Panthers, and I'm sorry this nonsense is detracting from your victory. Until I figure out a way to deflect blame with the unflinching precision of the NFL, I guess I'll just have to sit here and take my lumps.
Local Takes: Denver Broncos
Broncos blog Mile High Report breaks down the Broncos' third-down performance against the Chiefs.
On the season the Broncos have now allowed conversion on 26.9 percent of third-and-longs. Overall they have allowed conversion on 37.6 percent of all third downs -- that currently ranks them 15th in the league. The offense was only able to convert on 6 of 16 third downs (37.5 percent) this game. While that raised the Chiefs' third-down allowed percentage slightly, they are still leading the league at 27.2 percent (they came into the game at 25.8 percent).
On the season so far the Broncos have allowed 475 yards on 128 first down carries (3.7 ypc). Denver has 20 TFL and 13 stops for no gain on those carries (25.7 percent of first-down carries against the team has resulted in zero or negative yards). I'm not sure how that compares to other defenses in the league (since I can't find a site that has the stat), but that number looks pretty good to me.
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It's a clean sweep at SB Nation's prediction panel. All six experts are picking the Broncos to win.
The Broncos are favored by anywhere from one to three points, according to OddsShark.
New England at Houston
Denver at Kansas City