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Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots Preview and Predictions 10-18-2020

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After two postponements due to COVID-19 positive tests in New England, the Patriots and Denver Broncos are ready to play Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

The teams were originally scheduled to play on Oct. 11, and then the game was pushed to the 12th because of the positive coronavirus cases within the New England organization. Another positive test that Sunday forced the game to be moved to Week 6.

The Patriots have not had any positive tests since so the game is finally set to be played, but not without major schedule juggling by the NFL. Week 6 was supposed to be a Patriots' bye while the Broncos played in Miami against the Dolphins.

The unexpected week off gave Denver quarterback Drew Lock extra time to make his return to the lineup. Lock was beginning to practice after missing two games with a right shoulder injury but was iffy to play if the game were last week.

He practiced Wednesday, and while coach Vic Fangio wouldn't say Lock would start, the quarterback said he was ready to go for the Broncos (1-3).

"It feels good just to be doing what I love, doing what I feel like I was put down here to do," Lock said after Wednesday's practice. "Great to be back with the guys, calling plays in the huddle ... gets pretty lonely back there with the headset.

"I am ready for the first hit, just to get it out of there, let it happen, let everyone hold their breath for a couple seconds and when I get up, everything is just fine."

The week off also gave tight end Noah Fant time to heal from an ankle injury and allowed running back Phillip Lindsay another seven days to come back from a turf toe injury. Both were practicing Wednesday but wide receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring) did not.

Lindsay's return comes with running back Melvin Gordon's murky status following his citation for a DUI on Tuesday night.

"We'll weigh the differences between what the mandated league punishment will be and anything we want to do in addition to that," Fangio said Wednesday. "I'm disappointed, but my own two kids have disappointed me at some points in their life, but I never stopped loving them anymore. He's one of us. We're going to love him, but there will be some consequences to what happened (Tuesday) night."

While the Broncos are happy to have Lock back, the time off has given quarterback Cam Newton a chance to return for the Patriots (2-2). Newton was one of the first New England players to test positive for COVID-19 and though he was asymptomatic, he would not have played if the game took place in Week 5.

Newton was expected to rejoin the team on Thursday.

The Patriots have had four players put on the reserve/COVID-19 list -- Newton, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and practice squad defensive lineman Bill Murray.

With Cowart on the COVID-19 list and Adam Butler dealing with a shoulder injury, New England was thin on the defensive line, so the team signed defensive tackle Carl Davis off the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad.

Despite the coronavirus cases on the team, the Patriots players are happy with how head coach Bill Belichick has handled the situation.

"He's been great," running back Rex Burkhead said. "He really has just put our safety, our family's safety first, and he's been in constant communication with us on doing whatever he can or whatever the team can to put in things in place to keep us safe."

If New England has Newton back it will be a significant upgrade from the loss at Kansas City on Oct. 5. Backup Brian Hoyer was pulled in the second half but his replacement, Jarrett Stidham, also struggled.

--Field Level Media

Prediction

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Key Players to Watch

Stadium

Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA.
Capacity: 68,756

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Last Injuries

New England Patriots

  • Deatrich Wise Jr.

    Personal
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Wise Jr missed the last game while tending to a personal matter, and it is undetermined if he will be available Sunday against the 49ers.

  • Shaq Mason

    Calf
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Mason has landed on the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list and is also dealing with a calf injury. It is unknown how long it will take for the symptoms to subside.

  • Dalton Keene

    Neck
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Keene has been held out of the past four games due to a neck injury, and it is unclear if he will return to action Sunday against the 49ers.

  • Derek Rivers

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Rivers has been placed on the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list and will miss an extended period.

  • Sony Michel

    Quadricep
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Michel has been assigned to the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list after coming in contact with the virus. He also has a quad injury, and it is up in the air when he will come off the IR.

  • Jermaine Eluemunor

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Eluemunor exited the last game with an ankle injury, and his availability is up in the air against the 49ers on Sunday.

  • James Ferentz

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Ferentz has been placed on the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list and will miss an extended period.

  • Adam Butler

    Elbow
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Butler was forced from the previous contest with an elbow injury, and it is uncertain if he will face the 49ers on Sunday.

Denver Broncos

  • Diontae Spencer

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Spencer exited the previous game with a shoulder injury, and it is unknown if he will face the Chiefs on Sunday.

  • Dalton Risner

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Risner was forced from the last game with a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will line up Sunday against the Chiefs.

  • KJ Hamler

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Hamler sat out the previous game with a hamstring injury, and it is undetermined if he will suit up against the Chiefs on Sunday.

  • Melvin Gordon III

    Poss. Suspension
    Prob Sun | probable

    Gordon III is facing possible discipline from the league due to an off-filed situation and missed the last game ailing from strep throat. It is anticipated that he will dress for Sunday's contest with the Chiefs.

  • A.J. Bouye

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Bouye has hit the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with a dislocated right shoulder, and his two-week window to be activated has now started.

  • Noah Fant

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Fant was absent from the previous contest due to an ankle injury, and it is unknown if he will return to the fold against the Chiefs on Sunday.

  • Jeremiah Attaochu

    Quadricep
    Doub Sun | doubtful

    Attaochu has missed the last two games with a quad injury, and it is unlikely that he will play Sunday versus the Chiefs.

  • Josh Watson

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Watson departed the last game with a hamstring injury, and it remains to be seen if he will suit up against the Chiefs on Sunday.