ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --On a Wednesday morning conference call, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talked about Denver's offensive balance, and the dangers presented to his defense by the way Peyton Manning utilizes his rushing attack.
A few hours later, wideout Eric Decker echoed Belichick's thoughts. The Broncos want to establish the running game, and open receivers will come with it.
"We've been running the ball well," Decker said. 'That's going to be our thing - establishing ourselves in the running game and complement it with a good passing game. If we can be consistent and find a rhythm like we did last week, that's when we're at the best."
In the Broncos' two wins this season, they had 65 running plays. Head Coach John Fox believes that a successful running game in a balanced offense is the recipe for success.
Not only has Fox learned that during his 24-year NFL career, but Sunday's opponent has also shown that a strong ground attack can lead to positive things.
"It's really important," Fox said. "Even when you watch New England last week, they fell behind but they took what the defense was giving them. They ran the ball very successfully. That's what you have to be able to do. You need that balance and you've got to be able to do both. Otherwise, when you become one-dimensional, it's easier for the defense to defend and most people who've been around a little bit understand that."
Denver fell behind by multiple scores in both of its losses this year, forcing the offense to get away from the running game. But the Broncos found the symmetry that Fox and Decker spoke of in their 37-6 win last Sunday against the Raiders. The team threw 31 passes and handed it off to its running backs 35 times.
They were successful in both phases.
"In this league, you have to be balanced because defenses are too smart, too fast, and too quick to do one or the other," said Decker, who leads the team with 24 receptions. "If we're able to run the football, they have to put eight guys in the box, they have to be ready for the run and that just opens up the passing game and vice-versa. Obviously balance is key, so they can't key in on what we're doing well at that time."
Just as Denver's offense intends to mix up the playcalling and formations to keep the Patriots on their heels, the New England defense does something similar. That makes it even more important for the offense to be prepared to adjust -- because that's what the opponent does best.
"Coach Belichick and that defense, you go in at halftime, they find ways to stop you or stop what you're best at," Decker said. "We have to find other ways to be successful, if we're getting stopped in a certain package in the run game, pass game, we have to find something else that's going to be successful. It's going to be a chess game with these guys."