Night net null null null The Broncos defense has put the "D" back in Denver, but the new Orange Crush will be tested Sunday by a prolific Patriots offense. The Broncos have the league's No. 1 defense in total yards and passing yards allowed. The Patriots have incurred multiple injuries on offense, but the Pats are still dangerous because they have Tom Brady at quarterback. MORE WEEK 12: Picks straight up | Picks against spread | Power rankingsBrady is having another MVP season, but the Broncos present possibly his toughest test this season. While Brady leads the Night net's top passing unit, and second-highest scoring offense, he's dealing with a thinning receiving corps. Wide receiver Danny Amendola is a game-time decision at Mile High. Brady might be throwing to a receiving group with Brandon LaFell as the No. 1 wideout and special teams
specialist Matthew Slater, rookie Chris Harper — recently promoted from the practice squad — and Keshawn Martin, who was inactive Monday night with a hamstring injury, rounding out the group. This could play into the hands of Denver's defense, which will try to blanket tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots may have to get their dormant ground game going, but it won't be easy against a Broncos defense that is seventh against the rush. By using short passes to running backs James White and LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots have found success despite a rushing game that is 28th in the league. Teams have tried to blitz Brady and the Bills hit him often, but his quick release, surprising elusiveness in the pocket and New England's short passing game have played into the team's success. The Bills pressured Brady on nearly every pass attempt but sacked him just once.MORE: Respect the Panthers | Packer problems | Ranking rookiesOn that play, the Bills disguised their rush, bringing only four. Brady had time, but the Bills did an excellent job of covering the receivers downfield to give Manny Lawson time to drop Brady. That's exactly what the Broncos can and need to do against Brady. The Broncos love to bring pressure and lead the league with 34 sacks. It should be noted that the Patriots are right behind them with 32 sacks, led by Chandler Jones' 10 1/2. So, even if the Broncos can slow down Brady, it won't guarantee victory with Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler having to face an underrated Patriots defense that sacked the athletic Tyrod Taylor twice.While the Patriots don't run the ball well, what they do is use short passes as extended running plays. When the Bills brought cornerback Nickell Robey on a blitz Monday night, White simply flared out to the flat and Brady beat the blitz by dumping it off. White shook a tackle attempt by safety Corey Graham before scampering into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown just before halftime. White made Graham miss, but it won't be as easy against a Broncos defense that swarms to the ball better than any other unit in the Night net. On a swing pass to Browns fullback Malcolm Johnson, three Broncos rushed to the ball to drop Johnson for no gain. Not only do the Broncos gang-tackle well and put pressure on the quarterback, but they also have a pair of Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris who can play on islands and free up the safeties and linebackers to make plays in the flat and over the middle. As well as Denver swarms the ball, the Broncos are also capable of making tackles in the open field like when linebacker Brandon Marshall dropped Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after he caught a swing pass in Week 4. However, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was late getting the ball out, something Brady does not do. The Bills were able to hold Gronkowski to only two catches and the Broncos have the ability to take him away as well. If the Patriots don't have the sure-handed Amendola Sunday night, either Talib or Harris will be locked on LaFell — meaning Brady will have to find another receiver to stand out. But Brady's been there before with receivers like Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson, Sam Aiken and David Givens — all of whom have caught multiple touchdown passes from Brady during his Hall of Fame career.