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Setting the scene: Patriots-Broncos

10.07.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Steady rain and temperatures in the mid-50s are expected for the late afternoon kickoff between the Patriots and Broncos at Gillette Stadium.

It figures to a be a raw afternoon at Gillette but wind should not play a major factor with only a light 5 mph breeze out of the west expected.

The Patriots enter the game with 12 players listed as questionable, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is battling a hip issue that reportedly has become more and more serious in the last two weeks. If Gronkowski can’t play, the Patriots could be extremely thin at tight end as Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday and Friday and Aaron Hernandez (right ankle) has missed the last two games before returning to practice on Thursday.

Receiver Julian Edelman (left hand) and safety Steve Gregory (hip) have already been ruled out.

The Patriots are playing their first 4:25 game of the year, 10 minutes later than last year to allow networks additional time for early games to finish before switching to a national game. Next week, the Patriots play at 4:05 p.m. ET in Seattle but the game is not a national game.

The Patriots are playing just their second home game in the first five weeks of the season after back-to-back road games in Baltimore and Buffalo. The Patriots have just three home games in the first two months of the season.

Of course, the main storyline today is Peyton Manning returning to New England for a matchup with Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady holds a 8-4 advantage over Manning, including 6-3 in the regular season.

Manning is 2-8 lifetime in New England, with his only wins coming in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and ’06.

Belichick is 9-5 against Manning, having split with him in 2000, the only year in the Belichick era the Patriots played Manning without Brady at the helm. The 9-5 mark does not include last year when the Patriots beat the Colts, 31-24, at Gillette, when Manning was on the sidelines for the Colts and missed the entire 2011 season.

In the Brady-Manning era, Manning has 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and a completion rate of 60.7 percent against the Belichick-coached Patriots. Brady has 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and a completion rate of 67.8 percent against the Manning-led Colts.

As is the case around the NFL, the Patriots and Broncos will be wearing various pieces of pink equipment and uniform apparel to commemorate breast cancer awareness month. (Note the second “A” in the GAMEDAY program in the inset photo).

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Denver Broncos, Michael Hoomanawanui, New England Patriots
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