Tonight’s game on the NFL Network is of particular interest to fans of the Patriots, as the Broncos have their sights on getting a first-round bye in the playoffs now that they have clinched the division; it’s the same outlook that Pats fans have for their team.

When the Raiders run: Oakland has struggled to run the ball, though they may get a bit of a boost with both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson returning. Their biggest issue is with run blocking up the gut: the Raiders are averaging only 3 yards per carry over right guard, and less than that on rushes over center and left guard. If Oakaland is to have any chance at all they need to be able to run effectively; problem is that other than the Pats game, Denver has been pretty good against the run (3.6 yards per carry). Advantage: Broncos

When the Raiders pass: Due to McFadden’s injury the Raiders have been forced to pass the ball often (2nd most in the NFL), with Carson Palmer accumulating a fair amount of yardage stats. His favorite target is TE Brandon Myers (69 receptions in 88 targets for 721 yards), and FB Marcel Reece gets the ball out of the backfield quite often (46 receptions in 62 targets for 467 yards). Denarius Moore is averaging 16.7 yards per catch, but has only 38 receptions out of the 88 passes thrown his way; he has completely disappeared the last four weeks. Denver’s pass defense is allowing only 6.4 yards per pass (4th), a 58% completion rate (6th), and an opponent passer rating of 79.1 (10th). Advantage: Broncos

When the Broncos run: Knowshon Moreno has gone from a forgotten afterthought to the starter and gained 154 yards on 40 carries (3.85 ypc) the last two games against a couple of mediocre defenses. Ronnie Hillman is a better runner, but not as reliable in pass protection. It shouldn’t matter though as Oakland has given up 150 yards rushing five times this season, including three games of 220+ yards; they’re allowing 4.7 yards per carry (27th) and 130 yards per game (28th). Advantage: Broncos

When the Broncos pass: Oakland has been getting virtually no pressure on opposing quarterbacks since Richard Seymour was sidelined four weeks ago; he is out once again. The Raiders rank near the bottom of nearly every pass defense metric; Manning should shred this defense apart. Put it this way: remember Phillip Adams with the Pats? He had been starting, but due to injury Ron Bartell returns, to cover either Eric Decker or Demaryius Thomas. Advantage: Broncos

Denver has won seven of their last nine in Oakland, so there is no help with that trend. The best hope is for the Broncos to have a bit of a letdown after clinching the division, and combined with having to travel on a short week just come out flat and not mentally ready. Maybe the Raiders, who have already been eliminated from the playoffs, will see this game as their Super Bowl. Coach Dennis Allen’s father passed away this week; maybe the team will rally around their coach like the Colts have this season. Maybe the Raiders, who have lost five in a row are due for a win – and Denver, who has won seven in a row since losing to the Pats, are overdue for a loss. Maybe … but I wouldn’t count on it.

Line: Broncos are 10-point road favorites
Total: Over/under is 48½
Prediction: Broncos 34, Raiders 20
– final score: Broncos 26, Raiders 13
Broncos -10 …
Over 48½ … X



This Day In Patriots History


December 6, 2010:
New England Patriots 45, New York Jets 3 at Gillette Stadium

On a Monday Night Football game in which the team honored Tedy Bruschi at halftime, the Patriots absolutely annihilated the Jets, handing them their third loss of the season and quieting their smack talk for a while.

Tom Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns in what was the most hyped game of the season. Danny Woodhead had 104 yards receiving against his old team, BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for two touchdowns, and Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch all had touchdown receptions; on defense Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty and James Sanders each had an interception off of Mark Sanchez.


December 6, 2009:
Miami Dolphins 22, New England Patriots 21 at Dolphin Stadium

Tom Brady threw touchdown passes of 58 yards to Randy Moss and 81 yards to Sam Aiken, but the Dolphins hung around and won on a field goal with 1:02 left to play. Wes Welker had ten receptions for 167 yards, and Kevin Faulk scored on a 6-yard run.


December 6, 1998:
New England Patriots 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 9 at Three Rivers Stadium

On a 2nd-and-nine with 1:56 to go in the first half Drew Bledsoe caught Pittsburgh off guard and hit Terry Glenn with an 86-yard touchdown. The score gave the Pats a 13-3 lead and highlighted a gutsy performance by Bledsoe, who was playing in obvious pain with a broken finger; Glenn set a team record with 193 yards receiving.

The defense had a big part in this win too, limiting the Steelers to just three field goals and all but eliminating their playoff hopes. Ty Law picked off a Kordell Stewart pass to set up one of Adam Vinatieri‘s three field goals, and Lawyer Milloy‘s recovery of a Jerome Bettis fumble set up a Robert Edwards‘ 4-yard touchdown run with 9:20 to play. Chad Eaton sacked Stewart three times, and Steve Israel also intercepted him; overall the Steelers had only 86 yards of total offense in the second half.


December 6, 1992:
Indianapolis Colts 6, New England Patriots 0

In swirling winds in Foxboro the only points by either team came on two field goals, as the Pats were shut out for the second straight game. Hugh Millen aggravated a separated shoulder and was placed on injured reserve following the game; Millen and replacement Scott Zolak were sacked eight times.


December 6, 1987:
Denver Broncos 31, New England Patriots 20 at Mile High Stadium

Reggie Dupard ran for 91 yards and a touchdown, and Tony Collins scored on a 4-yard pass from Tom Ramsey.

In the 4th quarter Denver scored on a John Elway pass to take a 24-20 lead. The Pats drove 36 yards but were forced to punt, the result being a touchback. On 4th-and-3 at the Pats 36 yard line, Elway brought the Broncos to the line of scrimmage in a shotgun formation. Elway surprised the Pats, the commentators and the audience when he unexpectedly punted the ball, which was perfectly placed and downed at the 5-yard line with 5:00 left to play. Following an incomplete pass, Tom Ramsey threw an interception which was returned 14 yards for a touchdown; game over.


December 6, 1981:
Miami Dolphins 24, New England patriots 14 at the Orange Bowl

Matt Cavanaugh ran for one touchdown and threw for another, but Miami’s Tony Nathan ran for 119 yards in the Dolphins’ win. Rick Sanford had an interception to help keep it close, but a fumble returned by the Dolphins for a TD proved to be critical.


December 6, 1970:
Miami Dolphins 37, Boston Patriots 20 at the Orange Bowl

Carl Garrett and Jim Nance each scored rushing touchdowns but Miami scored two touchdowns on special teams for the win. Gayle Knief scored the only touchdown of his NFL career in this game on a 22-yard pass from Mike Taliaferro.


December 6, 1964:
Boston Patriots 31, Kansas City Chiefs 24 at Municipal Stadium

Babe Parilli threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Pats improved to 10-2-1, setting up a showdown on the final game of the regular season against Buffalo to determine the winner of the AFL East. Parilli threw a 58-yard TD to Gino Cappelletti and two to Art Graham (6 receptions for 74 yards). With the score tied at 17 entering the 4th quarter Parilli connected with Graham on a 39 yard pass to give the Pats the lead, then J.D. Garrett scored on a 1-yard run to make it 31-17. Jim Colclough led the Pats with 83 yards receiving, on five catches.



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December 6, 1988:
Roy Orbison died all too young at the age of 52.




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