CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- No team has ever finished its final three games against teams starting the season 10-3 or better. And one of these opponents for the Broncos is the New England Patriots. They boast the league's best record over the past 15 years, which coincides with the excellence of quarterback Tom Brady.
Perhaps you've heard of him. Husband of Gisele Bundchen. Captain America. Tom Terrific. The human middle finger to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Brady arrives in Denver, where he's 2-7 overall, with 22 touchdowns and two interceptions. He missed the first four games of the season serving a suspension for deflated footballs, yet remains a solid candidate for NFL MVP honors. It's not enough that the Broncos need to win. They need to do it against him.
"There's more pressure. These are must-win games," DeMarcus Ware said. "He was a sixth-round pick. That doesn't matter. Just watch how he plays."
The Broncos succeeded last year by doing something no other team accomplished. They hit Brady. Yes, they sacked him four times. But they hit him. Over and over. The number settled at 20, the most Brady had ever suffered in his career. It disrupted Brady's timing, and left him battling accuracy issues.
"He sees everything. He doesn't even need an offensive line. ... Let's be honest, he hasn't always had the best talent in the world around him. But no matter who his receivers are, his pre-snap adjustments set them up to excel," Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller said. "It's all talk now until we turn it up another level. I have to step it up another notch."
The key to slowing Brady? Pressure. But for the Broncos to reach Brady, they need to work in concert. It starts with winning battles on the outside.
"We need our cornerbacks to disrupt the timing of the routes," Ware said.
The Broncos own the league's best pass defense, allowing 183 yards per game. The Patriots rank fourth in points scored and second in passer rating. This is fist vs. fist.
"It's time to cut it loose and play," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. "There's nothing left up there at the end if you don't step and find a way to be successful. This is what you work for."
Broncos linebacker Todd Davis (left oblique) worked with a trainer during practice and hopes to practice Friday. Brandon Marshall (left hamstring) did not attend practice and is not expected to go against New England.
Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison missed practice the past two days to deal with a family situation.
Quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp on Trevor Siemian, "He gets it. He likes the challenge."