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Broncos and Patriots could be headed for a showdown of the unbeaten

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) congratulates Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after the AFC championship game in January 2014.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) congratulates Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after the AFC championship game in January 2014.

(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

No one from the Denver Broncos or New England Patriots would utter it publicly at this point — not in the week-to-week world of the NFL — but we could be headed for a showdown between two Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks and their undefeated teams.

The Broncos play host to the Patriots on Nov. 29, and there’s a good chance both could be 10-0 at that point.

The Peyton Manning-led Broncos, who improved to 7-0 with a Sunday night victory over previously unbeaten Green Bay, have three winnable games coming up — at Indianapolis, against Kansas City and at Chicago.

Tom Brady and the Patriots, also 7-0, play host to Washington, are at the New York Giants, then back home against Buffalo.

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None of those opponents has a winning record.

Of course, in a league in which games are often decided by a handful of plays, hiccups happen. There are letdowns and upsets all the time, so it’s probable that one or both of these teams have blemished records by the end of the month. If the teams stay undefeated, this year’s installment of the “Battle of 1812" — in reference to Manning’s No. 18 and Brady’s No. 12 — could have even higher stakes.

According to betting expert R.J. Bell, there’s a 33% chance Denver and New England will be undefeated by the end of the month, or 2 to 1 in Las Vegas terms.

“Denver is favored significantly in its next three games, and New England is an even bigger favorite in its next three,” said Bell, founder of Pregame.com. “But when you add it all up, it only takes one misstep, and that’s why the teams are 2-to-1 underdogs to be undefeated when they meet.”

Bell said if the game were to be played today, the Patriots would be a four-point favorite in Denver.

Denver Coach Gary Kubiak, whose team is fresh off a 29-10 victory over the Packers, said he’s not concerned about the Broncos staying focused.

“The topic was brought up last week about distractions,” he said Monday. “My point was those are good distractions. Those are for all the right reasons. ... I think we have the right people. They stay focused on what they’re doing. We need to have another good week. I think our guys are on top of that stuff.”

The Broncos made more news Monday, making a trade with San Francisco for two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis.

To this point, Denver’s strong suit has been its top-ranked defense, not the play of Manning, who had seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions going into Sunday night’s game.

Although he had an interception and no touchdowns against the Packers, Manning threw for 340 yards and was in control throughout. He was asked whether it was satisfying to silence his critics.

“How can I say this without hurting anybody’s feelings?” he said. “I just don’t give what y’all say that much merit. It just doesn’t — I’m not going to put a Jim Mora on you and say the famous, ‘You think you know, but you just don’t know and you never will.’ Although that’s a great line, I’m not saying that. I’ll say it at some point before I stop playing, but it’s not the time now.”

The Patriots turned in an even more lopsided victory in Week 8, pounding Miami, 36-7. The Dolphins were coming off consecutive blowout victories under interim Coach Dan Campbell.

New England receiver Julian Edelman said the Patriots aren’t feeling pressure to keep their record unblemished, but instead are focusing on the now.

“It’s more about just going out there and hammering the nail away, all the way in,” Edelman said. “That’s what Coach [Bill Belichick] always says. Just hammer away, because if you don’t, you’re going to be stubbing your toe on the floor with the nail coming out. We’re just going to try and hammer away, take care of all the little things, take care of your fundamentals, come in and take care of your nutrition, the weight room. You’ve just got to stay in your same routine.”

Le’Veon Bell is done

Pittsburgh put Le’Veon Bell on injured reserve, a day after the All-Pro running back suffered a knee injury against Cincinnati.

In six games this season, Bell had 556 yards in 113 carries with three touchdowns, and 24 catches for 136 yards.

The Steelers signed running back Isaiah Pead to take Bell’s spot on the roster.

Season is on hold

San Diego’s Keenan Allen, who was on a record-setting receiving pace, is out indefinitely because of an injured kidney. He suffered the injury Sunday at Baltimore when he landed awkwardly on his back and spent several minutes on the turf while being attended to by trainers.

Through eight games, Allen had 67 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns. That’s the second-most receptions of any player in NFL history through the first eight games of a season.

Ricardo Lockette update

Seattle receiver Ricardo Lockette, carted off the field after a big hit in Sunday’s game at Dallas, underwent neck surgery Monday at Baylor University Medical Center. Lockette suffered ligament damage as a result of the collision. The Seahawks said he has full motion and feelings in all extremities and his prognosis is good.

Show me the money

Oakland is trying to hang on to the Raiders. The city has hired a stadium consultant to come up with new financing options that won’t include taxpayer money.

The Raiders, who are jointly backing a stadium proposal in Carson with the San Diego Chargers, say they need $400 million in public money for a new East Bay stadium to replace O.co Coliseum.

Oakland’s new consultant is expected to present a financing proposal to the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, possibly as soon as this week, the Associated Press reported.


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