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Ten years ago, the New England Patriots got a little help against the Oakland Raiders thanks to a little-known rule.
The New England Patriots have beaten the Denver Broncos already this season, but in the latter portion of the season a certain Broncos player has emerged as a big time threat that New England will have to account for. Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has had a big impact since the beginning of December. NFL.com's Jeff Darlington points out the eye brow raising numbers.
Since Dec. 1, Thomas is averaging 22.5 yards per catch. His 108.7 yards per game are second in the NFL behind only Lions star Calvin Johnson. Thomas' teammates say they couldn't be happier for him after all he has endured.
Thomas caught the 80-yard game winning touchdown pass agains the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, doing a lot of the work after he caught the football. In the first meeting with the Patriots, Thomas picked up seven receptions for 116 yards, so he'll need to be a key focus of the Patriots defense especially with Eric Decker being inactive.
Fresh off announcing the most-watched Wild Card Playoffs game in NFL history, CBS top broadcasating tandem of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be on hand in Foxborough, Massachusetts when the New England Patriots host Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos in Saturday night's AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
42.4 million viewers tuned in for the Broncos' thrilling 29-23 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, making it the most-watched show since Super Bowl XLV, drawing more than 10.6 million more viewers than the previous night's Detroit Lions-New Orleans Saints playoff game on NBC. Between the phenomenon that is Tebow taking on Tom Brady, Bill Belichick in a prime time setting, chances of CBS toping last week's impressive ratings are good.
After a relatively mild winter, snow and cold air began creeping into the central New England area this week. A few inches of snow fell on the area on Thursday and a blast of arctic air will have wind chill temperatures near zero by halftime of Saturday night's AFC Divisional Playoffs game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos.
By kickoff, the temperature will be near 20 with wind chills in the single digits.
The media outlets have been streaming into nearby Bass Pro Shops to stock up on winter gear for Saturday night, WHDH in Boston reports.
"They’ll come in and they’ll order anywhere from 300 to 500 hand warmers to make sure all the people that are working for the game will be nice and warm," said Jeff Moschella, Bass Pro Shops Manager.
The Denver Broncos are coming off a thrilling overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime on an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tim Tebow to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. "We were just waiting for him to come out and play the way we knew he could and show everybody," receiver Eddie Royal said. The Broncos will hit the road this week however and head to Gillette Stadium to try and win on the road. In the first meeting between the teams in the regular season, the Patriots walked out of Denver with a 41-23 win.
The Patriots on the other hand are trying to win their first playoff game since the 2007 NFL playoffs. The Patriots are prepared to take on the Broncos offense and defense though, having already beat them this season. Former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels is now on the Patriots staff as well, so he should know a bit about Tebow. "He's ready to help us in any way that he can. I'm sure that he'll be an asset to our coaching staff and our team," Belichick said. "I'm not sure exactly how that will pan out." In the last meeting, quarterback Tom Brady threw for 320 yards in the air with two touchdowns.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, January 14; 8:00pm ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
The Denver Broncos will travel to face the New England Patriots on Saturday night in the 2012 AFC Divisional round of the playoffs, in a rematch of a regular season meeting. In the first meeting, the Patriots offense exploded for 20 points right before halftime to take a lead and hold it to win 41-23. The Broncos defense gave up 451 total yards to Patriots and were killed by the Patriots other tight end, Aaron Hernandez, to the tune of 9 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. As Peter King of SI.com points out, it's not just Rob Gronkowski teams should worry about at tight end.
The Broncos don't need to worry about getting Gronked here. They have to worry about getting killed by both tight ends. Aaron Hernandez had nine catches the first time these teams played this year, a month ago in Denver, proving Rob Gronkowski isn't the only one who can obliterate a defense among New England's tight ends. Gronkowski and Hernandez combined for 169 catches this season, and that's going to be the most difficult single factor for Denver to address here. I don't see enough quality cover men to cover those two plus Wes Welker, and Brady will feast.
The unlikeliest of teams that remain in the hunt for this season's Lombardi Trophy continues its remarkable run Saturday at Gillette Stadium, though the Denver Broncos' participation in this weekend's AFC Divisional Playoff clash with the storied New England Patriots is just one of several juicy plot lines that have built up this fascinating and pivotal matchup.
Denver's sudden return to prominence under veteran head coach John Fox and young quarterback Tim Tebow has been the story of the 2011 campaign, and the surprising AFC West winners added another enthralling chapter to their tale in last Sunday's Wild Card Round. Behind career-defining performances from Tebow and second-year receiver Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos stunned defending conference champion Pittsburgh in an action-packed 29-23 overtime thriller to advance in the tournament.
New England earned the AFC's top playoff seed for the second year in a row after compiling a 13-3 record during the regular season, but was bounced by the rival Jets in the 2010 Divisional Round following a 14-2 composite mark.
Date & Time: Saturday, January 14th, 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
Announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
During his Thursday morning press conference with the media, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick discussed the challenges associated with facing a Denver Broncos offense that has improved over the last few weeks.
From Lindsay Jones of The Denver Post:
"You've got to be able to handle all the elements of the offense, and they're going to test you on all of them. They're going to test you with the receivers down the field on catch-and-run plays, they're going to test you inside, outside in the running game with the quarterback, the running backs, some kind of reverse or gadget plays," Belichick said. "They run those things every week. You're going to have to get ready for them. You don't know when or which one it's going to be, but they're going to test you on that. I'm concerned about all of it, of course."
In the first meeting between the Broncos and Patriots on December 18th, Denver's offense racked up 218 yards of total offense, including 167 on the ground, in opening up a 16-7 lead over New England in the first quarter. Adjustments made by Patriots safeties coach (and defensive play-caller) Matt Patricia limited the Broncos to 175 yards and ten points over the final three quarters.
With the Broncos improving in the passing game, the Patriots may need to make similar adjustments on Saturday night.
The Denver Broncos face the New England Patriots for a second time this NFL season and the stakes are even higher than the first. While the Broncos were still able to back its way into the playoffs after two more losses, there is no safety net: lose and the Broncos go home until training camp. Even after last week's ending against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver is once again considered the underdog, as seen in CBS' panel taking the Patriots, 5-0.
Pete Prisco is one of the selectors and he broke down why he went with the Patriots. Prisco repeats his same line from the earlier game: once Tom Brady opens up a lead against the Patriots, the Broncos won't be able to overcome it. Maybe that turns out to be true, but Tebow was able to throw for 316 yards against the Steelers' No. 1 pass defense. The Broncos should be able to stay in the game as long as Tim Tebow stays on the trajectory he had last week against Pittsburgh. Will there be a road upset in the making?
The Denver Broncos head to Foxborough, MA to take on the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs. Most would see heading to New England in the playoffs as an exceedingly difficult task, but in recent memory it hasn't been. The Patriots haven't won at home in the playoffs since the last time the squad made the Super Bowl, in the 2007 NFL season. In fact, the Patriots haven't won at all in the playoffs since that run. Including the Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, they Patriots have lost their last three games in the playoffs.
SI.com's Don Banks wonders if the "playoff well" in New England has run dry.
Back in the day, New England in the playoffs meant you had better have your parade route at least sketched out for the Tuesday after the Super Bowl. But the dynasty has hit a drought of sorts, losing three consecutive postseason games since winning the 2007 AFC Championship at home against San Diego. That's more playoff losses than the Patriots incurred in the first 16 postseason games of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, when New England went 14-2 from 2001 through that 2007 AFC title-game victory over the Chargers.
To put it another way, by the time the Patriots and Broncos hit the field at Gillette Stadium Saturday night, there will have been 40 playoff games played in the NFL since New England last won in the postseason, and that three-year-plus gap ties for the longest barren stretch of the Kraft era in terms of postseason success.
The Denver Broncos are out to shock the world again when they continue on the road to the Super Bowl this Saturday. After being underdogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers by nine points on most lines, the Broncos opened as 13 point underdogs against the New England Patriots, according to Odds Shark. At least one line has already moved the line to two full touchdowns.
The Patriots did beat the Broncos earlier in the season, 41-23. That was at Mile High. This time the Broncos need to head into Gillette Stadium at Foxborough. That is Tom Brady's house, Bill Belichick's domain. Can Tim Tebow deliver another exciting victory for the Broncos?
The over/under for this game might be optimistic at 50.5 points, but much of this still depends on how well Tebow is able to perform. He passed the first playoff test at home, but now he needs to repeat that on the road.
You gotta admit -- Tim Tebow can bring in the numbers. The Broncos OT victory over the Steelers was the most watched show since the last Super Bowl and that's largely due to the the Steelers huge fan base and, of course, Tim Tebow.
The Broncos QB gets a lot of media attention but, then again, a lot of people want to hear about Tebow. The results of a recent poll by ESPN indicate that Tebow is the most popular active pro athlete.
Tebow was recognized by 3 percent of Americans surveyed as their favorite active pro athlete, placing him above Kobe Bryant (2 percent), Aaron Rodgers (1.9 percent), Peyton Manning (1.8 percent) and Tom Brady (1.5 percent) in the Top 5.
It is by far the fastest and earliest any athlete has assumed the top position since the inception of the poll in 1994.
I don't think that TV record will be safe next weekend.
The New England Patriots are heavily-favored over the Denver Broncos in their 2011 AFC Divisional Playoffs game on Saturday night, but history is squarely on the side of the Broncos. In regular season play, the Broncos are 25-17 against the Patriots and have won both times the two teams have met in the playoffs.
Both of the Broncos playoff wins over the Patriots have come in the Divisional Playoffs round. In 1986 Playoffs, Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who is now the team's President, hit Vance Johnson for a 48-yard touchdown in the third quarter of a 22-17 win at Mile High Stadium. The two teams met again at Invesco Field in the 2005 AFC Playoffs, with the Broncos defense forcing five turnovers, including two interceptions of Tom Brady, for a 27-13 win.
The last time the Broncos beat the Patriots in the regular season -- October 11, 2009 -- Josh McDaniels was their head coach. McDaniels rejoined the Patriots coaching staff this week and though he drafted Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas, John Bena of Mile High Report doesn't think McDaniels poses much of a threat to the Broncos.
The Denver Broncos will be without fullback Spencer Larsen in the AFC Divisional matchup against the New England Patriots on Saturday. Larsen was placed on IR Tuesday and replaced by wide receiver D'Andre Goodwin.
#Broncos announce they have added WR D'Andre Goodwin to active roster. FB Spencer Larsen (knee) goes to IR.— Lindsay Jones (@PostBroncos) January 10, 2012
The move allows the Broncos the bolster their wide receiver corps. Eric Decker is expected to miss the game against the Patriots. Goodwin had been one of the Broncos' final cuts at the start of the year and rejoined the practice team in October. The rookie had a solid, but unspectacular career at Washington. During his senior season in 2010, he caught 44 passes for 530 yards and four touchdowns.
For more analysis of Sunday's matchup, be sure to check out Broncos blog Mile High Report.
The New England Patriots should know the Denver Broncos well considering they notched an 18-point victory over them on Dec. 18 but head coach Bill Belichick said this week that the process isn't that easy. While the Patriots do know the Broncos and how they play because the two teams met a month ago, he says the preparation really starts anew.
It's kind of like playing a team in your division the second time. You know them, they know you but you really need to go back and look at a lot of little details, the keys and see the adjustments that we need to make for the things specifically that they do that are different from what other teams do or things that we worked on before but we'll just have to react to a little quicker this time around because again they've seen us and I'm sure they'll take advantage of some of things that we do better this time just like hopefully we'll be able to do against them.
And it's hard to beat a team twice in a season. During the BCS National Championship game on Monday night, backup quarterback Brady Quinn noted the difficulty of beating a team twice, "As you saw tonight...tough to beat a team twice..."
The Broncos will hope Quinn's right.
SB Nation's NFL power rankings enter the divisional round of the 2012 NFL playoffs. How should the postseason teams be ranked?
Generously listed as carrying 325 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame, Wilfork's has played in over 85 percent of his team's defensive snaps this season, a sharp increase over his playing-time percentages of 58 to 66 percent over the 2008-10 seasons.
"I never look at it,’’ Wilfork said. "I know I’ve played a lot this year, but I think everybody - even guys that have played 20 plays or 100 plays less than me -probably feel the same way as me. It’s just a long season.’’
Wilfork has 52 tackles, set a career-high with 3.5 quarterback sacks and recorded the first two interceptions of his NFL career. The 30-year-old has also inspired his younger teammates.
"He’s just amazing,’’ Patriots defensive lineman Kyle Love said. "I look at him and it’s the fourth quarter, he’s been out there the whole game and I can see the look in his eyes, but he’s still pushing, fighting.
"It inspires me to play hard because I was always a guy like, ‘I’m tired, I’m tired. I need a break, a rest.’ I see him, he’s not looking for somebody to come get him. He’s just trying to play harder and harder every snap, so it just makes me want to play harder and harder every snap.’’
The 2012 NFL playoffs move onto the divisional round where the Broncos will travel to New England and they can do what they did against the Steelers and pull out a win.
As the coach that drafted Tim Tebow and worked with a number of other players on the Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels obviously knows quite a bit about the New England Patriots' playoff opponent. McDaniels was recently brought back to the Patriots' staff by Bill Belichick, and though he will be working on the offensive side of the ball, he should be able to provide Belichick with plenty of information about Tebow and co. for the Patriots' defensive gameplan.
Tom Brady believes that McDaniels has some inside information that can help the Pats, but that Belichick already had a plan in mind to stop Tebow and the Broncos.
He obviously has some inside information on that team and those players, as he coached them. I haven't seen Josh yet, so I really don't know. I think coach Belichick has a pretty good idea of what he's going to want Josh to do. I talked to Josh briefly but I really haven't had a chance to sit down with him. He's a great coach and we're lucky to have him. I'm excited to get back to work with him. How that plays into this week, we'll see. We'll try to figure that out here in the next five or six days.
The Patriots' defense has been decimated by injuries and is not as formidable as they have been in past seasons, but it would still be surprising if Tebow was able to duplicate the success he had in the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But the Broncos didn't come out of the game completely unscathed -- WR Eric Decker suffered an MCL injury. Originally feared to be a season-ending ACL tear, Decker just sprained his MCL, according to the Denver Post. Decker is not expected to play in the Saturday night game at New England.
Decker has started 13 games this year and has 44 receptions for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. He was originally a third round pick by the Broncos in the 2010 NFL draft.
The loss to New England put Denver in a tailspin, as the Broncos lost their final three regular season games and backed their way into the playoffs at 8-8.
Now, after a dramatic 29-23 OT victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, Tebow-mania is back in full force.
And if the Broncos want to beat the Patriots in New England, their offense will have to take care better care of the ball than in their first match-up, when they lost three fumbles, setting up Tom Brady and the Patriot offense for quick strikes that forced them to play from behind most of the game, not the strength of a run-heavy offense.
Denver trailed New England 451-393 in total yardage, and the Patriots defense, ranked 31rst in the NFL in pass yardage allowed and 17th in rush yardage allowed, could give Tebow plenty of opportunities to make big plays as long as he can avoid giving them the ball.
What's even better than throwing an 80-yard game-winner in overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback, triggered a salary escalator when the Broncos beat the Steelers in the AFC Wild Card game which means he's $250,000 richer. It's not unusual for contracts to have escalators in there for things like winning playoff games. We just didn't think Tebow would achieve those this quickly.
He has a chance to add onto that number next weekend: if the Broncos can beat the New England Patriots in the Divisional round, Tebow will earn another $250,000.
Tebow signed a five-year deal after the 2010 draft valued at $9.75 million but there's another $23+ million available in incentives (some he's likely to earn and some he's not).
The Denver Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night thanks to, who else, Tim Tebow and his 80-yard game-winner to Demaryius Thomas. The Tebow show has become appointment viewing and that was the case on Sunday night in one of the biggest playoffs upsets we've seen.
While the Broncos celebrated on Sunday night, they'll need to get back to work on Monday morning because the New England Patriots, their divisional round opponent, are very, very familiar with Tebow and how he operates. Specifically, Josh McDaniels is familiar with Tebow.
And McDaniels is now a member of the Patriots again. McDaniels, of course, drafted Tebow (and Thomas for that matter) when he was the head coach of the Broncos.
About about three minutes after Tebow hit Thomas for the game-winner, the Patriots issued a press release confirming that McDaniels would be returning to New England.
Nice timing. Think it was an coincidence? Me neither.
McDaniels has the title of offensive assistant and in 2012 he'll take over as offensive coordinator. But after the Rams season ended on Jan. 1, St. Louis let him out of his contract, he inked a deal with the Pats and now, as we await the AFC Divisional round playoffs, McDaniels is working for the Patriots, again.
Eric Decker left the Broncos' big win in the 2012 NFL playoffs with a sprained MCL and will have an MRI on Monday.
Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos pulled off an improbable overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and will face the New England Patriots on Saturday, January 14.
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