Yesterday, we learned that Jerod Mayo was out. That sucks, but it wasn’t nearly as important as the news that we were expecting today about Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, and Jamie Collins. Chandler Jones left the Chiefs game late in the 4th quarter with a knee injury, and Hightower and Collins have both been battling consistent knee and back injuries, respectively. Today, we got the news that the trio avoided the injury report and participated in practice.
While Mayo’s absence is a clear detriment because he’s really good for a team’s 3rd linebacker, it doesn’t significantly hurt the Pats’ chances this weekend in Denver. Mayo has lost a step and a half from his heyday several years back, and he’ll wind up ending 2013, 2014, and 2015 on season-ending IR. Jones, Hightower, and Collins are all in another class, and their presence on the field is instrumental to the Pats’ success. The biggest reason they lost in late November was a porous run defense, and the 3 of them are way better equipped to stop CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. The thin air of Denver is a huge home field advantage against opposing defenses, and Mayo was sucking wind by the end of the Week 12 game. The young lungs of Jones, Hightower, and Collins should be able to handle it better.
The Broncos’ best advantage against the Pats this weekend, other than Mile High, would have been the Pats’ injuries. The ailments loomed large in late November, and they could have been the reason for a Broncos victory on Sunday. Alas, the Pats have everybody they really need. Jonathan Freeny almost played this past Saturday and will likelybe there for Sunday, and he’ll be 80-90% of Mayo anyway. The Broncos are screwed.