Surging Broncos To Face Ultimate Test In Patriots
NFL analysts across the country have been baffled by the recent success of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. It’s not just the success that has left “experts” speechless. It is the ways in which the Broncos have won football games. Inexplicable boneheaded plays by the opponent, timely fumbles, ridiculously clutch field goals, and stellar defensive performances have all played an integral role. If Tim Tebow and the Broncos can find a way to defeat the Patriots in Week 15, especially in dramatic fashion, we may see some heads explode on national television. Nobody can overlook the fact that the Broncos have won six games in a row that they simply should not have won. Similarly, no one can overlook the fact that, for three-quarters of a football game, Tim Tebow looks like a punter being forced to play quarterback, suddenly turning into an All-Pro in the 4th quarter and overtime. Whether or not you believe that there is something supernatural happening with Tim Tebow and the Broncos is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, the Broncos keep winning football games, and they are about to play the biggest one of their season Sunday afternoon in Denver. Tebow Magic will be put to the ultimate test against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Broncos Offense Vs. Patriots Defense
The Broncos run a zone read option, relying on Tim Tebow’s instincts as a runner to detect whether the defensive ends are going to commit to the inside or outside, and he has done a very good job of it thus far. Denver has been pretty bad offensively in the first half of games, but there may be a method to their madness. The Broncos relentlessly run the football, and with the zone read option attack, defenders have to account for the quarterback as well as the running back. This can become tiresome throughout the course of a game, and may partially be a factor as to why the Broncos are able to take advantage of defenses late in games. The Patriots, while dead last in the NFL in total defense giving up 416 yards per game, are actually pretty solid against the run, ranking 13th in the NFL. The Denver Broncos are the #1 rushing team in the NFL thanks to Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee. McGahee is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this season, while Tebow is averaging 5.5. As far as the passing game goes, Tebow leaves much to be desired. He is completing less than 50% of his passes, albeit he is doing a great job of not turning the ball over by throwing interceptions. However, to beat the Patriots and their potent offensive attack this Sunday, Tebow is going to have to put up some numbers through the air, and it is quite possible against this generous pass defense. New England has given up far and away the most passing yards of any NFL team this season, allowing opponents to throw for 4,013 yards in 13 games, which is downright awful. New England consistently struggles to get to the quarterback (with the exception of Andre Carter), and the secondary consistently makes bad quarterbacks look good. Last week against the Redskins, New England made Rex Grossman look pretty good, and they allowed running back Roy Helu and a patchwork offensive line to work them over handily. Tim Tebow and the Broncos must take advantage of this Patriots defense early. Expect Belichik to keep contain on Tebow so that he does not have many opportunities to extend plays with his feet. The Patriots will force Tim Tebow to prove that he can make throws from the pocket in the first half of a football game, which he has been unable to do effectively so far this season. If there was ever a secondary that Tebow could take advantage of, however, the Patriots would be it.
Patriots Offense Vs. Broncos Defense
When questioned about the approach the Patriots will be taking into this game, Bill Belichik said the Patriots need to make this game “Tebow proof”. In other words, Belichik wants to be beating the Broncos so badly by the time the 4th quarter comes around that there won’t be enough time for “Tebow Time”. To do this, the Patriots will have to put up plenty of points very early in the game. Easier said than done. This Broncos defense has been nothing short of spectacular since around the time Tebow took over as the starting quarterback, with the only exception being the Detroit Lions debacle. You could also say the same for Tom Brady. His phenomenal season has been overshadowed by that of Aaron Rodgers so far, but Brady is also on pace to eclipse the 5,000 yard passing mark. He has thrown 33 touchdowns, and he is completing 66% of his passes. Brady also has several deadly weapons to throw to in Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. The Broncos may be a very stingy defense of late, but so far nobody has been able to stop the Gronk. Gronkowski has already broken the single season touchdown record for tight ends with 15, and we still have 3 games left on the schedule. He is too big for safeties to cover, and too fast for linebackers. He is a mismatch for opposing teams no matter where you put him. Welker is turning in yet another great year as well, with 100 catches and 1,339 yards to go along with 9 touchdowns of his own. Obviously, the Patriots want Welker and Gronkowski to add to these totals early and often so they can put this game away before halftime. To counter this, the Broncos will rely on their ferocious pass rush, led by rookie 2nd overall pick Von Miller. Miller has 11.5 sacks this season, registering a sack in 10 of the 12 games in which he has played. It is essential for Miller and the defense to disrupt Brady early in the game to prevent him from settling down, as well as to keep the home crowd into the game. If the Patriots get a couple of quick scores on this defense, it could really take the wind out of Denver’s sails, and potentially lead to a blowout. We are about to find out just how good this Broncos defense really is.
Both of these teams are going to look to impose their will and their style of play on this game. Denver wants to ground and pound with the run and play solid defense, keeping the score low. The Patriots would love nothing more than to get into a shootout with Tim Tebow, where they would obviously have a huge advantage. I believe the first half of this game will determine who the winner of this game will be. If the Patriots jump all over Denver’s defense early, I just don’t envision the Broncos being able to keep up. However, if this game turns into a grind-it-out, close game, I don’t see how you can bet against the Broncos. New England is not comfortable playing in those types of games, and their defense cannot be trusted to come up with big stops in the 4th quarter. If this game is still up in the air in the 4th quarter, the Patriots should be very concerned. Whichever team forces their opponent to play their style of football will win this game.
This game really could go either way, in my opinion. It is very tough to pick against the Broncos right now, but this is simply not a good matchup for them. Everyone talks about Tim Tebow’s competitiveness and grit, and rightfully so. But Tom Brady is a fierce competitor himself, and you can bet he does not want to listen to ESPN talk about how Tim Tebow beat him all week. He wants this game, and he wants it badly. He wants it badly, but he’s not going to get it. The Broncos will force New England to play an ugly, violent game in which New England will be very uncomfortable. The Broncos win, 26-24.
Bold Prediction: Tim Tebow throws for 310+ yards, a career high.
- Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (rattleandhumsports.com)