After the Broncos miracle victory last week, Tebow mania has hit an all-time high. With about 4-minutes remaining against the Bears down 10-0, everything went the Broncos way to stage the comeback. Marion Barber inexcusably ran out of bounds to stop the clock late in the 4th, then, fumbled the game away in overtime. The game was in the bag for the Bears, but they have only themselves to blame given the mental lapses. The Patriots on the other hand seem to be on cruise control at the moment. They haven’t played talented teams in the last few weeks, but will be back in the spotlight today (4:15EST).
Last week the Patriots, believe it or not, picked up their first-ever victory in Washington. It wasn’t a picture perfect win the Patriots, 34-27, but they are in the driver’s seat for receiving a first round bye in the playoffs. There was commotion on the Patriots bench late in the contest following a Tom Brady interception deep in Redskins territory. Offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, and Tom Brady got into a confrontation over the pick. For most teams, this would be a huge red flag, but situations like this usually ignite the Patriots. There’s no denying that the Patriots have looked asleep at times of late, so perhaps this is what they needed. It may seem a little obscure to say a 10-3 team is asleep, but they usually don’t allow bad teams to hang around late it games. If you bet the Patriots against the Colts two weeks ago, and last week, you know what I mean. The problem can be accredited to a porous pass defense. The Patriots are dead last against the pass (32nd), allowing a whopping 308 yards per game. The question for the Broncos comes down to if they can exploit this gaping hole with Tebow throwing the ball around. Against the run, the Patriots do have run stoppers that can plug the middle. Most notably, Vince Wilfork will be waiting to smother Tebow and company. The Broncos identity is primarily to hammer away between the tackles with their number 1 rated running game. However, if the Patriots have any strength on defense, it is the ability to contain this attack.
The Broncos defense has certainly lived in the shadow of Tim Tebow, but the defensive unit should be getting more credit. They have held the team together when Tebow has struggled. Just when you think the Broncos are going to get blown out, the defense steps up and gives Tebow the opportunity to work his unique powers. I believe if the Broncos are going to win, they are going to need to contain Tom Brady for three quarters. The pass defense of the Broncos can be exploited by an elite quarterback, 17th in the NFL. There’s no denying Tebow is clutch, so if it is close in the fourth, the Broncos can very well win. In other words, the Patriots better not coast in this one, or Tebow will seize the opportunity.
Patriots vs. Broncos Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
New England Patriots -7.5
@Denver Broncos +7.5
Over 46 (-110)
Under 46 (-110)
Patriots vs. Broncos Pick:
The Broncos haven’t exactly beaten elite NFL teams this season under Tebow. If they beat the Patriots, though, they will get the respect they rightfully deserve. However, after the Patriots coasted for the past two weeks after getting leads, I don’t foresee them lying off the gas pedal if they get an early lead. Tim Tebow is going to need to get into a groove for the Broncos to have a chance. I don’t expect them to be able to rely on their run it right up the gut style of football. Jerod Meyo and Vince Wilfork will stuff them if that is how they are going to approach this game.
The Patriots will want to turn this into a track meet. There is no way Tebow will be able to stay on pace with Brady’s pace if he’s in the zone. The Patriots pass defense can be torched, no one denies that, but can Tebow be accurate enough to hit his receivers for four-quarters? Well, I have seen him miss wide open targets on a regular basis. There’s no reason to believe Tebow can complete enough passes for the Broncos to stay competitive in this respect. It’s simple for the Broncos: stop Tom Brady, and run the conventional offense to keep him off the field. A little easier said than done, I expect Brady to be focused after the dispute on the sidelines from last week. Take the Patriots, with a lean to the over.