Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos were eight-point 'dogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend in the AFC Wild Card yet they played like they were the favorites taking control of the game in the second quarter. The Broncos improbable run lived on when Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for the 80-yard game-winner, which means they're moving on to play the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional round.
On the surface, the Broncos have no business beating the Patriots -- at Gillette Stadium, no less. They're nearly two touchdown underdogs and they lost to the Patriots (in Denver) just a month ago.
Upsets are fun to watch which is why SB Nation's NFL playoffs roundtable wanted to tackle this question: Can Tim Tebow and the Broncos actually go into New England and win this weekend?
It's Tebow and it's the Patriots, which means everyone has an opinion. Our roundtable participants are SB Nation NFL bloggers David Fucillo and Jason Garrison, as well as myself, SBNation.com's NFL editor.
David Fucillo: In a league where any given Sunday upsets do happen, the Denver Broncos can go into New England and win a football game. Although they are not particularly consistent, the Broncos can play some great defense and dominate in the rushing game. When you have an inconsistent passing attack, defense and rushing can overcome it. That has been a big reason the Broncos have won nine games this season.
In spite of all that, I would be surprised to see them go into New England and win. In spite of a highly suspect Patriots pass defense, I don't think the Broncos have the horses to stay in a potential shootout. While Tom Brady is not the most mobile quarterback around, compared to a gimpy Ben Roethlisberger, he looks like, well, Tim Tebow. The Broncos defense has struggled all season against good offenses and I think Tom Brady and company can put up points too easily. I don't think the Broncos can score nearly enough to keep up.
Jason Garrison: One of the reasons that the NFL is so great is because on any given Sunday any team can beat any other team. That means that the Indianapolis Colts can beat the Green Bay Packers, if the conditions are right. It also means that the Denver Broncos can go to New England and beat the Patriots if, again, the conditions are right. Having said that, though, I don't think it's actually going to happen.
I respect what Tebow has done for the Broncos and I congratulate him on beating the Steelers at home. I don't think that Tebow and the Broncos can generate enough offense to beat the Patriots, who have one of the league's best offenses, on the road. They couldn't do it at home in Week 15 and there's no reason to think it will happen now. But I guess stranger things have happened.
Joel Thorman: If the Tim Tebow that showed up on Sunday night is playing then, yes, the Broncos have a legitimate shot to beat the Patriots. Previously Tebow was the guy that ran the ball really well but couldn't do anything in the passing game. Against the Steelers he was able to stretch the field with some deep passes and that adds a dimension that, as the Steelers players said after the game, we haven't seen on film before.
The Patriots should win this game -- there's no question about that -- and I'm fairly certain that they will. But if Denver can keep this thing a one-score game in the fourth quarter, it's not crazy to think that Tebow and Co. can win it.
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