We had an easy winner last night on the Falcons -12, they smoked the Jaguars 41-14. After watching that game I’ve come to the following conclusions: the Jaguars stink, their offense is terrible, and their once vaunted defense has been shredded in two of the past three games. Something to remember for the final two games of the season. Atlanta looked pretty good, they could really make some noise in the playoffs. Maybe a sleeper team, like Green Bay was last season.
Enough about last night, let’s get to the pick. I’m not making a pick in the Eagles / Jets game this week. Everything in me wants to say the Eagles will cover the three point spread but I am not sure which Eagles team will show up on Sunday. Will we see the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter Eagles from last week, or will we see the team that stunk up Seattle two weeks ago. I don’t know and I’m not going to put any money on it to find out (jk, for amusement purposes only). But you know they’ll win, and keep us sucked in for one more week of false hope.
But if you follow the NFL you may have heard about this other game out in Denver that is getting as some buzz. Some guy named Tebow is playing against the Patriots. This is pretty much the NFL’s dream match-up. The two most polarizing stars (Tebow and Brady) playing head to head. The Patriots are in first place in the AFC East, they are in the midst of a 10-3 season and a five game winning streak. The Broncos are riding a six game winning streak and they lead the AFC West at 8-5. Game of the year? In terms of hype, it probably is.
I broke down the match-ups and made a pick in this one…
Bet #1: (a.k.a. the “Tom > Tim” pick) – New England Patriots -7 over Denver Broncos
I know, you’re all saying “you’re picking against Tebow? You’ll be sorry.” You don’t have to tell me about the legend of Tebow. I picked the Jets four weeks ago against the Broncos in Denver when Tebow pulled a “Tebow” (it used to be called an “Elway”) and led a 4th quarter rally to win 17-13. I watched as he floundered for three quarters and then did a 180 in the 4th quarter and played like a man possessed.
But it’s not going to happen this week. Not against the Patriots.
You may hear the stat that Brady is 1-7 vs. Denver. But that was against a different Denver team, a different Denver coach, B.T. (before Tebow). That stat is meaningless this weekend.
This line has moved up all week, it opened at New England -5 and has been bet up to New England -7, even hitting -7.5 in some places today. Everyone is on the Patriots; wiseguys, marbles (squares), that guy in accounting who always corners you at the coffee machine and asks you who you like, etc. As of Friday morning 85% of bets are coming on on the Patriots. Wow. And you know what, I still like New England.
Yes, Tim Tebow and the Broncos have been winning, no question, the proof is right there in black and white. The 4th quarter comebacks, the overtime wins, the “how the hell did that happen” fumbles from the opposing teams in crunch time. Heck, ESPN did a whole Tebow special this week. The guy is everywhere, you can’t escape him. It kind of reminds me of another QB who burst on the scene and started winning games and turning heads….. Tom Brady.
Tim Tebow is Tom Brady 2.0, with a healthy dose of Jesus thrown in. I’m an Eagles fan, so ever since the Super Bowl in 2005 I have had a personal dislike for Tom Brady, but you have to respect his record. He wins, and he has been doing it for 10 years. And I’m banking on him to do it again this week.
Here’s how I think it will happen… the pattern since Tebow started this hot streak has been that the Broncos manage to keep the game close through three quarters, and then let Tebow do his thing in the 4th quarter (please don’t call it ‘Tebow time’, I might have to smack you). This week I expect the Patriots to do all they can to jump out to a big lead early and take ‘4th quarter Tebow’ out of the mix.
If you look at the Denver final scores it makes you think that they are a defensive juggernaut that can shut down teams and keep the score low. But they’re coming in with the 18th ranked defense, 23rd v. pass, 12th v. rush. They are allowing 23.3 points per game. Two weeks ago they got lit up by Christian Ponder for 381 yards and three TD’s, but the Broncos still managed a 35-32 4th quarter win. So they can get scored on.
I see Tom Brady throwing on Sunday, and throwing alot. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez should get plenty of looks this week. If you have any Pats receivers in fantasy, they should give you some good stats. Denver comes in with the 23rd ranked pass defense, New England has the 2nd ranked passing offense. That adds up to Brady having a big day (I’ll say 300+ yards and 3 TD’s). New England is putting up 30 points per game, and I think they continue that trend this week by putting up a good number of points against Denver.
And knowing that Tebow has a history of 4th quarter comebacks I expect Brady and Belechik to keep their foot on the pedal and not give the Broncos a chance to pull out a last minute win.
Yeah, I know all about the Patriots bad defense, (29th overall, 28th v. pass, 21st v. rush) but I trust that Belechik can put together a scheme to shut down Tebow. I’m not sure what that scheme will be (spy Tebow with a LB? rush him alot to throw off his rhythm? play contain and not let him run?). You know Belechik and his staff have been thinking about it for a few weeks. They’ll have something up their sleeves.
The Pats defense is below average, but Tebow does not have great passing stats. His 83.9 QB rating is right around the league average. But 48.5% completion rate? Worst in the NFL for starters. 117 yards passing per game? Another one where he ranks at the bottom. He’s been sacked 23 times in 11 games, and has eight fumbles (three fumbles lost). If you send in the pressure, he can be beaten.
Tebow is a running QB, his rushing stats are similar to Mike Vick and Cam Newton. But when he is contained and not allowed out of the pocket that will take away his ability to scramble and get yards. He’ll get his 50/60 yards, but limiting his ability to make something out of nothing will go along way to beating the Broncos.
I think the Patriots will mimic the gameplan of the Lions when they played the Broncos in week and came away with a 45-10 win.
Lions DB Chris Houston said this after that game, “We sent the rush and we were out there on an island most of the time and the D-line just got to him, got a lot of sacks and made him throw the ball up.” And that’s what going to happen on Sunday. Bring the heat to Tebow, make him beat you with his arm. Now the Patriots DB’s are not world-beaters but I think they are capable enough to contain the Broncos receivers. Denver is 26th is pass protection, so even though the Patriots D-line is sub-par this season, they could bring the pressure to Tebow.
How about Belichick figures out how to contain Tebow, Brady slices up the Broncos defense and the Patriots come away with an impressive win. I’m saying Patriots 31-20.
This line cold get over 7 by Sunday, I would only bet this at 7 or less. It’s not worth it at 7.5, that hook on the 7 is huge. Buy a half point if you need to get it down to 7.
The Line: New England -7, O/U 46
The Pick: New England -7
Game Trends (via Covers.com): Patriots: 5-12 ATS against the Broncos since 1988.
Season Record: 19-16. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.
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