In the most anticipated game of Week 9 NFL action, the Denver Broncos travel to face the New England Patriots on Sunday, November 2nd. The Patriots have won four of the last five meetings, though the Broncos did win the most recent showdown in the 2013-14 AFC Championship Game by a final of 26-16.

Denver (6-1) is coming off its fourth straight win last Thursday in a 35-21 home victory over San Diego. New England (6-2) also won its fourth straight contest with a 51-23 beat down of Chicago at home.

This game is set to kick off at 4:25 EST Sunday afternoon inside Gillette Stadium. CBS will be providing the television coverage. If you are looking to bet on this huge showdown, you’ll find Denver as a 3-point favorite at New England with a total set of 54.5 points.

My Early Lean: Broncos -3

I know the Broncos got revenge in the AFC Championship Game last year, but they have not forgotten their 31-34 (OT) loss at New England during the regular season. They led that game 24-0 at halftime and let it slip away, eventually losing in overtime to the Patriots after getting outscored 34-7 after intermission. Look for them to get out to another big lead in this one and to hold onto it this time due to their vastly improved defense.

All the moves the Broncos made to improve their stop unit this offseason are really paying off. They are allowing just 20.3 points and 315.3 yards per game to rank 4th in the league in total defense. Considering they are almost always playing from ahead, I have been impressed with the way this defense has buckled down and not given up garbage touchdowns in the second half like they did a year ago.

Denver has been nearly as potent offensively as it was a year ago, too. It is putting up 32.0 points per game while averaging 398.4 yards per game of offense. That’s impressive when you consider it has faced a very difficult schedule to this point. Opposing defenses are only giving up 21.9 points and 331 yards per game, so the Broncos are scoring 10.1 points and gaining 67 more yards than their opponents are allowing on average.

There’s no question that the Patriots are playing their best football of the season, but it has come against a relatively soft schedule. Their four straight wins have come against the likes of the Bengals, Bills, Jets and Bears, and three of those were at home. While their numbers are now solid, they are nowhere near as dominant as the Broncos. They are gaining 363.1 yards per game on offense and giving up 340.5 yards per game on defense.

New England has some key injuries coming into this game, and it cannot afford to be without these players against Denver. Top pass rusher Chandler Jones and top tackler Jerod Mayo are both out with injuries. Peyton Manning is going to exploit those losses as this Patriots stop unit is just average without these two. Manning and company racked up 507 total yards on the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game last year, outgaining them 507-320 for the game.

Manning and company racked up 507 total yards on the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game last year, outgaining them 507-320 for the game.

Denver is 25-11 ATS as a favorite over the last three seasons. The Broncos are 20-7 ATS after the first month of the season over the last three years. The Broncos are 13-3 ATS in the second half of the season over the last three seasons. The Patriots are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game. The favorite is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings in this series.