New England Patriots(10-3) at Denver Broncos(8-5) (Sun. Dec. 18th, 2011 @ 4:15pm(EST.)
(Denver): QB Tim Tebow - No matter what you think of Tim Tebow as a starting quarterback in the NFL he is proving once again he is a winner. He is not the typical NFL QB of today's league which is all about passing stats. He just leads his team to victory whenever his number is called to make plays. Tebow needs a lot of work with his passing from the pocket, but he has a 7-1 record as a starter and plenty of game winning drives over the last 5-6 weeks. If the game is close against New England especially near the end of the 4th quarter, look for Tebowmania to strike again.
(New England): QB Tom Brady - Brady stats wise is having another MVP type season. He has thrown for 4,273 yards and 33 tds. The only negative about his game is he has uncharacteristically thrown 11 ints after only throwing 4 ints total in 2010. He is one of four QBs who has a chance to break Dan Marino's single season passing yards mark of 5,084 yards in 2011. One thing for sure, the more pressure and bigger the game is Tom Brady almost always elevates his game. He should continue his great play against a good Broncos defense.
Denver Offense vs. New England Defense: QB Tim Tebow leads the cardiac kids with a power running game and spread offense. Denver will try to control the clock with RB Willis McGahee and Tim Tebow conducting the run option. The Broncos will need to convert 3rd down situations to keep the chains moving while keeping Tom Brady and the Patriots high powered offense on the sidelines. Tebow will have to make some plays in the passing game which he has done at end of game situations. Denver is ranked 31st in passing offense and can't afford to fall behind by a big margin. Tebow has three talented wide receivers in Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eddie Royal. They will be facing the 32nd ranked pass defense of the Patriots so something will have to give on those sides of the ball. The Patriots are decent against the run with DT Vince Wilfork and LB Jerod Mayo leading the attack. The secondary is where the troubles have been all season. They can never seem to get off the field by creating short series by the opposing offenses, but they have forced turnovers. CB Kyle Arrington leads New England with 7 interceptions. Believe it or not, New England may want to try and force Denver into passing the ball by stuffing their number one ranked rushing attack.
Denver Defense vs. New England Offense: Denver used a 3-4 defensive scheme the last few years and when they hired new coach John Fox they switched to a 4-3 defense. The Broncos still need to add a few more talented pieces to the defensive line. DE Elvis Dumervil brings the pressure off the edge and has 7.5 sacks this season along with rookie LB Von Miller who leads Denver with 11.5 sacks. The secondary is led by to crafty veterans in CB Champ Bailey and SS Brian Dawkins. They will have their hands full with Tom Brady and the Patriots passing offense. Brady is only 1-6 versus the Broncos in his career. Denver will need to focus on containing WR Wes Welker(1,339 yards and 9tds) and TE Rob Gronkowski(1,088 yards and 15tds). Denver should get physical with the Patriots receivers at the line of scrimmage while playing aggressive man to man defense and disrupting the timing of the pass routes.
Denver (NFL Rank & Yards) New England (NFL Rank & Yards)
Rush Off. 1st - 156.2ypg 21st - 105.1ypg
Pass Off. 31st - 160.8ypg 2nd - 319.3ypg
Rush Def. 21st - 124.2ypg 13th - 107.3ypg
Pass Def. 16th - 232.9ypg 31st - 308.7ypg
Total Offense: 23rd 2nd
Total Defense: 19th 32nd
Points Per Game: 20.7ppg (21st) 30.5ppg (3rd)
Broncos rushing attack (versus) Patriots rush defense: Denver has the number one ranked rushing attack in the NFL. QB Tim Tebow and RB Willis McGahee are the main culprits. McGahee was picked up as a free agent during the off season from the Baltimore Ravens. He gives the Broncos that physical presence running between the tackles and in short yardage situations and is averaging 4.6ypc. Tebow is the one who makes this spread option running attack effective with his ability to run and also complete passes when the situation calls for it. The Patriots are solid against the run and very tough in the middle where pro bowler DT Vince Wilfork is a permanent fixture. Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes do a great job of flowing to the ball on running plays and making it tough to rush against the Patriots.
CB Champ Bailey (versus) WR Wes Welker: Father time has been good to All-Pro CB Champ Bailey who is 33 years old and in his 13th season still capable of covering the opponents best receiver man to man. The Broncos will need Champ to be at his best in this matchup and limit Welker's receptions and big plays. Welker has been Tom Brady's favorite target and he looks for him on first, second, and third downs. He leads the NFL with 1,339 yards receiving and also has caught 9 tds. The Broncos need Champ to win this matchup more than the Patriots need Welker to do so because Tom Brady has so many other options at his disposal.
Final Word: Once again old school (power running team) meets new school (today's NFL-pass first). Denver has the number one ranked rushing attack led by QB Tim Tebow and RB Willis McGahee. They use a combination of the spread offense and power running game. Tebow and the Denver offense will need to control the clock and score touchdowns and not field goals when they reach the red zone area. Giving the ball back to Brady and the Patriots offense after scoring a field goal is almost like a turnover and is not an ideal combination for success. The Broncos have the 31st ranked passing offense so they can't afford to get behind by a big margin, if so they can kiss da baby even though New England has the worst pass defense in the NFL. The Patriots have the 2nd rated offense and can score from anywhere on the field. Tom Brady and crew will put pressure on the Broncos defense to slow them down and the Broncos offense to keep pace scoring wise. However, if the game is close down the stretch and Denver has the ball with a chance to win look for Tebow to do his magic once again.