Money Line NFL – Saturday Night
Denver @ New England -13.5 8:30 Saturday
I wouldn’t believe anyone who tells you they know what is going to happen in this game Saturday night. Anyone who says this is a sure-fire Patriots blowout is the same person who said the same thing about the Steelers game last week. They haven’t revised their opinion about Tebow or the Broncos, but clearly they need to be taken seriously. Since I don’t know how it is going to play out either let’s lay out all the scenarios go from there:
The Surprise – Just the way the week 15 game started between these two teams, the Broncos start off running the ball and making swiss cheese out of the Pats D. They gain an early lead but this time instead of three first half turnovers they keep the run going. The Pats D, which has been their weak link all season never re-groups and the Broncos hold the lead the whole way. The Patriots are most comfortable playing with the lead and the game can get away from them when they are behind. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Denver continue to roll if they start off the game hot.
The Nail-biter – A variation of the surprise, the Broncos start hot but they never pull away enough from the Pats to put the game away. And we know what happens next. Once the Patriots have settled into a game their offense tends to pick it up and they have no problems with going back-to-back-to-back TD’s. One thing we know about the Patriots offense is that unless you can really put pressure in Brady’s face they are going to drop 30 points on you. Only a select few teams have been able to do this and based on week 15 Denver does not appear to be one of them, so Denver better plan on scoring a lot if they want to win this game.
The Blow-Out – This is what everyone seems to be expecting. The Patriots come out flying on offense and never look back. Because Bill Belichick is a genius and he figured out the Broncos offense and defense last game and now there is no stopping him. There is some truth to this, but can the putrid Pats D really hold down this team enough to make it a blow-out? Even if the Pats are playing great D they will still be leaking points. Isn’t it more realistic that the Patriots offense is putting up points, they are leading the game where they are most comfortable but their D can’t shut down anyone so Denver has still manages to get 9-13 points with just enough time left on the clock for…
Tebow Magic – Do you realize it has been four weeks since we have seen the pure unbridled version of Tebow Magic.
Last week doesn’t qualify. That was Tebow domination. What about the Tebow that doesn’t inspire confidence for 3
quarters and plays so poorly that even his biggest fans begin to wonder what it is they saw in him. But then come
the 4th he plays his heart out and there is no stopping him. Aren’t the Pats the perfect defense for this to happen
to? Belichick did seem to figure out the Bronco offense at the end of the week 15 game. But that doesn’t mean
the Broncos can’t make adjustments of their own. And once Tebow does start to gain momentum do the Pats have a
playmaker on defense who is going to step up and put an end to it?
So what scenario is going to play out?
I think it is a combination of the Blow-out and Tebow Magic. I really do believe the Patriots are ready for this game on offense and defense. Their offense knows the spots to attack and they are at home this time. I can’t really see them being held down. The defense was able to make some adjustments last game and really limit the Broncos. I think these things hold true to start the game and the Patriots will play most of the game with a lead. But there is just too much evidence with the Pats D at this point to think they can hold anyone down for an entire game. Buffalo and Miami jumped out to big leads on the Pats in weeks 16 and 17. In back to back weeks they let Washington and Indy put up 27 and 24 points on them and give them a game each time. This D just doesn’t have it any way you slice it.
And that’s what I can’t shake. Pretty much every Patriots fan feels either openly or in the back of their mind that this team can’t win a championship because of their defense. When you’re not good enough to win a championship you could lose at any time and you might not see it coming. When you have that looming over you there is no way you can grab a team as a nearly 2 touchdown favorite. Remember that last weekend’s Pittsburgh – Denver match was the most watched TV event since last year’s Super Bowl, and that this game is being played on Saturday night, do you really see this one being a blow-out that has viewer’s’ changing the channel? Me neither.
New England has the better offense and they are at home. They usually do well when seeing an opponent the second time. I think they come out hyped for this game and take an early lead. They might even be in total control of the game. But I can’t see them putting Denver away, they leave the door open just enough for Tebow Magic. That’s right, we are heading into the 4th quarter and the Patriots are up 24-9. No one in the stadium believe’s Denver has a chance but they do have the ball and a full quarter to play. Then it begins, a long TD drive for Tebow, suddenly the Denver D is rejuvenated, they get the big stop they need, another TD for Tebow, now it is practically a tie game. All the momentum in the world is going against the Patriots, but that is when it helps to have Tom Brady. I don’t believe the Patriots offense can be held down long enough for them to lose. New England is coming off a bye and Denver had to play Pittsburgh last week, Steelers opponents are only 4-11 in the week following that game. The Steelers are so physical they wear teams out and it shows up the next week. Several of those 11 losses were 4th quarter collapses by the Steelers previous opponent letting close games slip away. I can’t see the Denver D coming up with the big stops required against Brady when it is crunch time. Besides, if anyone is supposed to end Tebow Magic it has to be the evil empire right?
New England 31 Denver 22