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Quick Take: Broncos at Patriots

1/9/2012

Three things to know about Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game between the Denver Broncos (9-8) and New England Patriots (13-3):

1. Hello, Mr. McDaniels: The Broncos thought it was strange to see Kyle Orton in a Chiefs uniform in Week 17. Well, the unexpected reunion tour takes another twist in the divisional playoff round when the Broncos, who beat the heavily favored Steelers 29-23 in overtime Sunday, face former coach Josh McDaniels. He was hired by the Patriots to be an assistant coach for the rest of the season and he is expected to be the Patriots’ offensive coordinator next season. He had that role in New England before he was hired by Denver in 2009. McDaniels was fired after 28 games.

2. Turnovers are the key: The Broncos were leading the Patriots 16-7 early in the second quarter in Week 15. However, Denver fumbled in its own territory three times in that quarter which New England turned into 13 points. The Broncos never recovered. Sunday, after the win over Pittsburgh, Denver cornerback Champ Bailey said the loss to the Patriots was “almost a reality check” and the Broncos know what they can’t do Saturday night.

3. Keeping running that ball: The Broncos ran for 167 yards in the first quarter against New England (finishing with 252 yards on the ground). But Willis McGahee got hurt and the fumbles forced the Broncos to turn to the passing game. Expect them to try to gash the Patriots early in this game as they attempt to pull off another playoff shocker.