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Patriots team reporter Megan O'Brien details how Broncos' Week 5 opponent could look without Tom Brady

From the franchise's first-ever game to its most-recent AFC Championship victory, the Broncos have a rich history against the Patriots. Take a look back through several of the most memorable wins with these photos.

As the Broncos approach the season, we're chatting with reporters who cover each of the team's opponents. We continue with Megan O'Brien, a team reporter the New England Patriots.

For a look at all angles of the Broncos' Week 5 road matchup against the Patriots, click here.

Aric DiLalla: What's the outlook at the quarterback position? Does it look like it will be an open competition between Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer?

Megan O'Brien:"There seems to be a perception that Stidham is the guy, but in my opinion, I think they brought back Hoyer for a reason. Especially given the circumstances of this offseason, I think we could see a situation where it very well might be Hoyer to start the season and perhaps as Stidham gets comfortable, we could see a switch. I do believe it is an open quarterback competition. I don't think the job is Stidham's. I think Hoyer's definitely in the mix, and depending on how all of this offseason goes with training camp, we could see a different situation — perhaps it's Hoyer starting. What I do think about Stidham is being around for a year, he's earned the trust of a lot of his teammates. Go back to some of the press conferences with Devin McCourty this offseason, and they just spoke about the way he carried himself as a rookie. I think that means a lot coming from a guy like Devin McCourty who's been around for quite a while. It will be interesting to see. If you go back and look at the fourth-round picks who have ended up having a career as a quarterback, there's not too many in recent years. It will be interesting to see what Stidham looks like. Looking back at last year throughout training camp and throughout the preseason, all you could say really is that he improved. But there wasn't a lot to see."

AD: Could you get a sense of Stidham's game from last season?

MOB:"Throughout training camp, throughout the preseason, he got better each time not holding onto the football too long. But a lot of his throws, it seemed like he was gaining confidence with the younger guys like Jakobi Meyers, like Gunner Olszewski, because they were all rookies last year. A lot of throws could've been pick-sixes as well, so I think for Stidham it's going to come down to just taking care of the football. If he can take care of the football and he can be a game manager, I think he'll find success within the Patriots' system."

AD: A lot of New England's free agent moves were to retain players likes Devin McCourty, Joe Thuney and Matthew Slater. How important was it to bring that core back after losing Brady in free agency?

MOB:"I think that's huge, and you look at what they're doing — we always say, look at what they do, not at what they say — all signs point toward more of a reboot this season. That's going to happen when you lose your starting quarterback, especially when your starting quarterback is Tom Brady. I think having those core guys, the leaders — the McCourtys, the Stephon Gilmores, the Julian Edelmans — they're going to help establish the culture in the locker room and they're going to make this reboot an easier transition."

AD: What is the feeling around the team and the tone without Brady?

MOB:"I think the leaders in the locker room are well established, and it starts at the top with Coach Belichick. These guys come in every season with a clean slate, a new page. I know that sounds so cliché, but that's what they do. Every year is a new year, and they truly treat it that way. Based on the conversations that we've been able to have with some of the players throughout the offseason via web conference calls, they're treating this just like any other season. It's going to be different because there is no Tom Brady, but I think the leadership in the locker room is just as strong as it's ever been."

AD: Are there any new additions through free agency or the draft that you think could make an impact in their first year in New England?

MOB:"I'm really excited about the tight ends. That was a position that the Patriots did not address last season whatsoever, which was surprising after losing Rob Gronkowski. They had Matt LaCosse on the team, they had Ryan Izzo. Neither of those [players] did too much. This year, you saw the Patriots draft tight ends with Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Keene's more of an H-back, so I'm interested to see how the two of those guys do. Also, [there's] the addition of Danny Vitale at fullback. Last year after losing James Develin, the Patriots really struggled to run the ball. We learned a lot about Sony Michel. He needs a lead blocker to effectively run the ball. I'm looking forward to seeing if Vitale can provide that to him or if Keene can fill in that role and to see what these tight ends can do for the offense."

AD: The AFC East seems like it's up for grabs. What's the biggest question you need to see the team answer for the Pats to compete for the AFC East and remain in the playoff mix?

MOB:"I think the AFC East, it looks like right now — obviously things can change — it's Buffalo and New England. I think Buffalo did a lot this offseason and should be extremely competitive. It's all going to come down to Josh Allen, and I think it's a make-or-break year for Josh Allen. See what he can do. I think on the defensive side of the ball it's really going to come down to those front seven guys. Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald had a great article yesterday just talking about the Patriots' defense and how they're adjusting to react to RPO [run-pass-option]offenses. I thought that was really interesting. I think they need reinforcements in the front seven. After losing so many linebackers, too, like Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins — those were guys who were versatile. They weren't just linebackers. They could play as a defensive end/linebacker kind of hybrid role. I think filling those holes is going to be key for the Patriots on the defensive side of the ball. And then offensively, just taking care of the football. What can Stidham do? Or is it going to be Hoyer — what can Hoyer do? Can Julian Edelman stay healthy, because obviously he's their number one receiver. I think there's going to be a lot of interesting undrafted free agents to watch during the preseason if and when that happens. I'm curious to see who will step up in those receiver roles. And then also N'Keal Harry, he missed half of last season. So we'll see what he can do — the [2019] first-round pick."

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