Tebow fever has hit an all time high. Not just among NFL fans, but Tim Tebow has become a national symbol across the country. Whether it is being featured on SportsCenter, the news, or late night comedy shows, the legend of Tim Tebow continues to grow and grow. The overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week is responsible for all of the hoopla. All it took was one play for Tebow to connect with Demaryius Thomas across the middle for an 80 yard touchdown. The victory sparked debate about some divine intervention working with the Broncos. After all, Tebow passed for 316 yards, set an NFL record with a 31.6 yards per completion, and a 31.6 TV rating. Of course, 3:16 represents Tim Tebow’s favorite verse in the Bible. The Broncos are going to need a little more help from the man above if they are going to pull out another upset against the New England Patriots. The Patriots have quietly sat in the background watching the Tebow circus, but have certainly been working hard at conceiving a plan to neutralize the Broncos offense, and a game plan to torch their defense again.
The first time these two teams met, Tom Brady had his way with the Broncos defense for 41 points. The Broncos looked lost trying to defend all of the options the Patriots employed. The Broncos focused on shutting Rob Gronkowski down, but all Tom Brady did was go to his other option at tight end, Aaron Hernandez. Brady ended the contest with 320 passing yards and 2 TDs, with a superb 117.3 quarterback rating. The offense has been putting up staggering numbers on a weekly basis. The Patriots offense has been the model unit for a decade on how to play it right. This year is no different, as the offense ranked 2nd in total yardage (428 yards per game), right behind the New Orleans Saints. The Patriots offense is propelled by future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady. Brady put together a solid campaign in 2011, accumulating 5235 yards and 39 TDs. Even more impressive, Brady averaged 327.2 yards a game. The Broncos defense is certainly no push over, but Brady did what he wanted against them. The Patriots in their last 3 games have averaged a whopping 39 points a game.
The problem with the Broncos defense is simple: they hate going against teams that can air it out and play shootout football. They didn’t play many teams that fit this bill, but when they did, they got beat in a big way. Let’s take a quick look at this. Against the Packers they allowed 49 points, the dysfunctional Chargers put up 29, the Lions pounded the Broncos for 45 points, the Patriots 41, and finally the Bills managed to blow the Broncos out 40-14. The similarities between these offenses is striking, they all love to spread the defense out with multiple receiver sets and go to work. As a whole, the Broncos defense ranks 20th in the league. They also allow 24.4 points per game, so maybe the defense works against teams such as the Chiefs and Bears, but when they faced the juggernaut offenses, things have gotten ugly. Many people proclaim that it is actually the Broncos defense that has won the games, and perhaps this is true, but you can’t ignore some excellent offensive numbers. I am most definitely speaking of the Broncos ground game, the rushing attack ranks 1st in the NFL, galloping for 164.5 yards per game. Thanks to a potent quarterback option playbook that has surprisingly worked under Tebow. The Broncos gashed the Patriots up and down the field in their first meeting. Before leaving the game with an injury, Willis McGahee rushed for 70 yards on just 7 carries. The first drive of the game resulted in a Broncos touchdown thanks to big scampers by McGahee. The Patriots defense is vulnerable against the pass and the running game. Although, their pass defense is simply atrocious, allowing 293.9 yards per game (31st). It’s funny that the two Super Bowl favorites at the moment rank 31st and 32nd against the pass (Green Bay Packers).
Broncos vs. Patriots Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Denver Broncos +13.5
@New England Patriots -13.5
Over 50 (-110)
Under 50 (-110)
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Broncos vs. Patriots Pick:
This game has all the makings of the most anticipated game of the Divisional round. We have Tim Tebow vs. Tom Brady in primetime on Saturday night. The evil genius Bill Belichick will be up against the Godly Broncos squad. With all these things considered, it definitely has a good vs. evil theme to it. The Patriots, however, could care less if they are pinned as the villain in this contest. They have had that tag for years now, and it hasn’t bothered them in the least. The second Demaryius Thomas crossed the goal line; Belichick and company have been busy putting together a game plan. The Broncos, though, are going to find it tough to slow down Tom Brady in Foxborough. They couldn’t do it in Denver, and nothing tells me they can do it again in this spot.
There were many situations last week where Roethlisberger had a chance to complete big plays, but the ankle hindered his performance. In fact, the first or second play of the game, Roethlisberger had a streaking receiver going down the sidelines which could have resulted in 6 if completed. However, he overthrew the ball and it fell out of bounds. Throughout the game, it was obvious Ben was simply using his upper body to deliver balls without a full range of motion with his legs.
This isn’t to say the Broncos will not put up points, because I feel they will. The Patriots defense has major holes that can be exploited. Right off the bat, the Patriots are going to want to get into a shootout, similar to the first meeting, which will force the Broncos to try and keep up. The Broncos defense just doesn’t have the tools to neutralize a high octane offense; they haven’t shown us they can so far. Safety Brian Dawkins is most likely out for this one as well, so that is one less player Brady has to worry about. Take the over 50 here, in which should be a great entertaining game for fans to watch. The current weather forecast shows 16mph winds. Remember what Tom Brady did to the Tennessee Titans in a snow storm a couple years ago? He passed for 5 TDs in a quarter, en route to a 59-0 victory. So, don’t let the weather be a huge determinant in your decision on this game. I have seen plenty of people say that the wind benefits the Broncos, but to me, that does not hold true.
PICK = Over 50 @ www.5dimes.com