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Patriots can keep their charge going

Tom Brady and the Patriots are unlikely to ease up
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New England at Denver
Three defeats in their last five matches – including key divisional losses to Kansas City and Oakland – mean Denver’s playoff hopes are hanging by a thread and they could have done without a visit from the Patriots.

A 13-10 reverse against Tennessee last week was another disappointment for the Super Bowl holders, while New England can virtually start preparing for the post-season right now.

They won’t, though. History suggests they won’t ease until home advantage for the playoffs has been guaranteed, so expect them to build on a fine performance in their 30-23 victory over Baltimore on Monday.

They are undoubtedly weakened by the absence of talismanic tight end Rob Gronkowski, they showed in their victory over the Ravens, one of the best defences in the league, that they are far from done.

Tom Brady threw more than 400 passing yards and three touchdowns even without his favourite target and although the Patriots are up against a defence who played a huge role in the Broncos’ Super Bowl triumph in February, that won’t concern the quarterback too much.

The Broncos have been poor against the run this season, so expect the rampaging LaGarrette Blount, who has scored 14 touchdowns this season, to enjoy another bountiful evening.

The visitors can ensure the scoreboard keeps ticking along.

Recommendation
Over 23 New England points
2pts 10-11 Ladbrokes


The lowdown
TV Sky Sports 2 Starts 9.25pm
Venue Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
Surface Grass
Weather Clear, 1C
Best handicaps New England -3; Denver +3
Points line 43.5-44 points

Team news
New England
Wide receiver Danny Amendola is unlikely to appear again before the post-season, while cornerback Malcolm Butler is struggling with a hip injury.

Denver
Linebacker Todd Davis should be available after a side strain but Brandon Marshall is still sidelined with a hamstring injury. Long snapper Casey Kreiter has a calf injury.

Key stat
New England have covered the handicap in five of their last six away matches

History suggests New England won't ease until home advantage for the playoffs has been guaranteed
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