ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Once again, the eyes of the NFL world will be on the Broncos and their opponent in Week 12.
Last week, it was because Denver was taking on its then-undefeated AFC West rival. On Sunday night, it will be because Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will square off for the 14th time in their NFL careers.
"It's always a great matchup," Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "You're talking about two of the premier quarterbacks in the league and it's going to be shown in primetime and all that. For us, it's an opportunity to go on the road and face a team that's really been on top of the AFC for a number of years. It'll be a great challenge and a great opportunity to go in there and play a good football team and find a way to scratch out a win."
Seven of the matchups between Manning's teams and Brady's teams have been within one possession at the end of the game, including five of the last six.
"You just know that, with a great player like that on the other side of the ball, that there's a very slim margin of error," Brady said in a conference call with the Denver media Wednesday. "They're never out of it. We're really never out of it. It's just a matter of who makes the plays at the end."
Last season in Foxborough, Mass., the Broncos were driving to make it a one-possession game, but the club's third fumble was too much to overcome and the Patriots came away with a 31-21 win.
The Broncos head on the road to play New England again this season.
"It seems like I sure do go there a lot, out there to Foxborough," Manning laughed. "I don't know how that always works, I guess it's always random they say, but it's been strange how that works out."
Brady noted that the Broncos have "a lot of the same players" from last season's contest, but both teams are plenty different from when the teams matched up in Week 5 of 2012.
Perhaps most notably, former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is now one of Manning's top weapons with the Broncos.
A neck injury and concussion have the receiver listed on the injury report, and he didn't participate in Wednesday's practice. But that doesn't exclude him from Sunday's game, and Welker did stretch with the team before heading into the weight room with Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson.
"I think Wes wants to be out there every single week," Manning said. "I can't speak for him in this particular week, returning to his old team. But I think Wes wants to be out there for the fourth preseason game if the team would let him play. It's just kind of how he's played his career out. He's kind of a guy that just is going to be in there, doesn't take anything for granted. I think that's a pretty consistent theme of Welker."
Regardless of who suits up, Brady said he knows what to expect when he lines up against one of Manning's teams.
"The games are always enjoyable," he said. "It's always tough competition."