updated on October 18, 2020 | 1:32 PM
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1:28 p.m.: That last sack of Newton was more about coverage than the offensive line, but the point still holds — New England is going to have to do a better job figuring out protection and blocking schemes here in the early going if it wants to find some offensive consistency this afternoon.
1:25 p.m.: The Patriots’ offensive line is a little leaky here in the early going, as Denver is starting to find some seams and get some penetration. Makes sense, as this is their fourth different starting lineup in five games. But New England is going to have to figure things out up front.
1:20 p.m.: Under the circumstances, a good stop for the New England defense, especially given the field position. McManus delivers his second field goal of a day, a 44-yarder, to make it 6-0 with 8:05 to go in the first quarter. Not sure if it’s a matchup thing or what, but Lock has gone after Jonathan Jones an awful lot in the early going. We’ll see how it plays out the rest of the way.
1:16 p.m.: Great,, disruptive play on the part of the Denver defensive linemen to not only tip the ball, but to swoop in and scoop it away. The Broncos force the turnover, and they’ll get the ball deep in New England territory. That early offensive inconsistency on display again for the Patriots.
1:14 p.m.: Patriots defensive starters: Simon, Guy, Butler, Winovich, Jennings, Bentley, Gilmore, J. McCourty, Jones, D. McCourty, Phillips.
Patriots offensive starters: Newton, Harris, Johnson, Harry, Byrd, Izzo, Herron, Wynn, Thuney, Onwenu, Eluemunor.
1:09 p.m.: Eventful first series there for Jonathan Jones — avoided a DPI, did his part to break up a pass for Jeudy in the end zone. The drive ends with a 45-yard field goal from Brandon McManus, and the Broncos take an early 3-0 lead with 13:02 to go in the opening quarter. The big play was a 43-yard completion to Patrick against Jason McCourty. Let’s see if the Pats answer here — they are one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to first-quarter scoring, with just seven points in the opening frame through the first four games.
1:01 p.m.: New England wins toss and defers. Time for the foosball!
12:43 p.m.: I like it. You guys are feeling optimistic this afternoon. We’ll see what happens.
— Boston Globe Sports (@BGlobeSports) October 18, 2020
12:40 p.m.: As anticipated, another change up front for the Patriots. New England figures to have its fourth different offensive line combination in five games.
A new offensive line wrinkle for the #Patriots in warmups:
LT Justin Herron
LG Isaiah Wynn
C Joe Thuney
RG Michael Onwenu
RT Jermaine Eluemunor
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) October 18, 2020
12:38 p.m.: If this game was played last week — without Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore — this one is almost a toss-up, in my mind. (Of course, the flip side is that if this game was played last week, the Broncos would probably have Brett Rypien under center instead of Drew Lock. Que sera sera.) The bottom line? Both teams probably caught a small break because of the bye, although New England probably benefitted a little more. Ultimately, even though the Patriots will continue to shuffle their offensive line (they won’t have Shaq Mason today), they should still be good to go today. I’m going to say New England 27, Denver 14.
— Cameron 1 Newton (@CameronNewton) October 18, 2020
12:13 p.m.: Spread has stayed pretty much the same over the course of the week, at least when you take a look at most major sports books, but that 7.5-point spread that favors the Patriots looks a lot firmer with both Newton and Gilmore in the lineup. I’d take New England and the points, but just barely. The over/under has stayed in the low 40s, and I’d be inclined to take the under, but just slightly.
11:48 a.m.: We’re going to start to get weather games soon, but not today. According to our pals at weather.com, this is setting up to be a perfect day for football — highs in the upper 50s to low 60s, no chance for precipitation, and a slight breeze. Good times.
Patriots have just about a full deck of weapons today vs. Broncos:
WR: Edelman, Harry, Byrd, Olszewski, Meyers, Zuber
RB: Harris, White, Burkhead
TE: Izzo, Asiasi, Rashod Berry
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) October 18, 2020
11:38 a.m.: We’ve got our inactives for today. First, the Patriots:
Defensive lineman Carl Davis: Davis was added late this week, so it’s likely he still needs time to get up to speed.
Defensive back Myles Bryant: Another healthy scratch for Bryant.
Running back J.J. Taylor: The undersized mighty-mite wasn’t on the injured list all week. Given the fact the Patriots will be without Sony Michel today, it’s a curious move. Even so, New England probably feels pretty good about its running back depth, with James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris all active.
Tight end Dalton Keene: The rookie has yet to see the field this season.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer: Not to make this single decision a referendum on the backup quarterback spot, but Hoyer wasn’t on the injured list all week. Given that, as well as the fact that he was yanked in favor of Jarrett Stidham in Kansas City, this could very well signal a changing of the guard behind Cam Newton.
Broncos inactives. pic.twitter.com/6rgE0bY9QW
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 18, 2020
11:27 a.m: Cam Newton is ready to go:
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) October 18, 2020
11:15 a.m.: Patriots-Broncos remains one of the more underrated rivalries of the last 20-plus years. I don’t know if it ever got as consistently hot as New England-Indy did from 2003-2007, but for many years, it was always a big contest when the Patriots met Denver. There were plenty of playoff showdowns between 2010 and 2015 — even though New England lost the 2015 AFC title game, the work that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski did in the fourth quarter of that contest remains some of their best ever. I won’t even get into the battles at Mile High the two teams had over the years, or the Ben Watson chasedown of Champ Bailey. (I’ll go to my grave thinking that was a touchback.) There isn’t anything like that at stake today, but it’s still fun to think about those epic battles over the years.
11:00 a.m.: Welcome back to football, everyone! After an unexpected bye week because of multiple COVID-19 tests, the Patriots and Broncos are reportedly ready to go this afternoon, with kickoff looming at 1 p.m. For New England, from an on-field perspective, there’s a level of excitement and relief in getting Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore back. Add in the fact that the Patriots are home, and there’s cause to feel optimistic about their chances this afternoon. Keep it here throughout the day for all the latest updates from Foxborough, weather news (it’s a little chilly today), betting information, inactive anaylsis (which should be along shortly after 11:30 a.m.) and much more. But as usual, we start things with our pregame reading list:
Chad Finn’s Unconventional Preview: After difficult preparations, Patriots should get an easy win over the Broncos
Globe Staff NFL Picks for the Week
What NFL experts are prediction for Sunday’s Patriots-Broncos game