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What to watch for as the Patriots host the Denver Broncos

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  November 24, 2013 02:00 PM

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FOXBOROUGH -- This game just might be a shootout, the first one of the year for the Patriots.

In 10 games, the Patriots have crossed the 30-point threshold only three times. No opponent has scored more than 31 against New England, including the vaunted New Orleans Saints (27). Which begs the question …

1. Can the Patriots keep up? -- The Broncos are the No. 1 offense in the league, as you might've heard. They're dropping 39.8 points per game on opponents. Peyton Manning has an astonishing 3,572 yards and 34 touchdowns through 10 games. He's throwing 350 yards a game and his team is averaging 455.5 yards of total offense. While Tom Brady is fantastic in most regards, his team has been nowhere near that prolific. So we'll see if the Patriots utilize all of their opportunities and minimize their use of punter Ryan Allen, the likely harbinger of a loss.

2. How will the injuries catch up to the Patriots? -- Last week, Aqib Talib (hip) couldn't finish against the Carolina Panthers after missing the past three games. Kyle Arrington (groin) appeared to be shaken up and never appeared to be at his best. Alfonzo Dennard (knee) missed after reportedly going through a procedure. And Steve Gregory (thumb) was also out after being injured against the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks prior. All are listed as questionable for today's game, with Dennard the only one not expected to play. That's a lot of players at less than 100 percent that are going up against the top offense. How will they handle the job?

3. How much will the weather be a factor? -- Much ado has been made of Manning's record in the cold. He's reportedly 2-5 when the game-time temperature starts at 32 degrees or below since 2001. It's expected to be 21 degrees at game time, with winds at 22 miles per hour, making it feel like 5 degrees out in Foxborough, according to Weather.com. That will affect everyone on the field, especially the kicking units. Long field goal attempts will not be advised. Conversely, Talib will be of concern. His hip tightened on him last week against the Panthers. This weather will not likely help.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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