Broncos over Patriots? It's not as crazy as it sounds
By Jason La Canfora NFL Network
NFL Network Insider
Published: Jan. 13, 2012 at 11:36 a.m.
Updated: Jan. 13, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.
So, as I suspected, calls for my head and attacks on my mental stability came flooding in on Twitter and otherwise when my NFL.com prediction hit the Internet. And yeah, I realize I went out on a limb here, taking the Broncos over the Pats on the road, but is it really the craziest thought in the world?
Allow me to explain a bit, if you will:
1. Run Willis, Run: We all remember the final score the first time these two teams played, but have you forgotten the way the Broncos ran the ball down the Pats' throats in the first half of that game? Until Denver started putting the ball on the ground and committing uncharacteristic turnovers, that was a ball game, folks. And on the road in a hostile environment, all the more reason to play physical, power football with plenty of read options and attack what was a struggling defense pretty much all season long. Denver can be dominant in the run game, and I believe it will be this weekend.
2. Orange Crush Defense: Von Miller was back last week. Sure, he still had that club on his hand, but it didn't seem to bother him nearly as much as it did the last month or so. If you have Miller and Elvis Dumervil both revved up, and getting after it, then that's a huge lift for a secondary that already has some playmakers. That can frustrate Tom Brady and make him not quite as perfect. That leads to turnovers and the Pats' offensive line is a little older and a little banged up. Without an elite running game, the Pats can get one-dimensional, and I know Brady can be devastating with the three-step drop against the rush, but I just have a feeling the Broncos are going to get to him.
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3. Loosey Goosey: The Broncos have nothing to lose. This season has already been a wild success and they have displayed a spunky knack for pulling out games that is unmatched. The Pats are Super Bowl or bust. They can't afford another one-and-done in the postseason. There is serious pressure not to lose another home playoff game.
They've lost to inferior teams before, in this spot, and this Pats team clearly has faults of its own. If Denver can find a way to mitigate the damage done by the young tight ends early, keep it close and force Brady to win the game on the outside of the hashmarks, against that pass rush, I like their chances. I expect a close game regardless and, ultimately I'm picking them because of ...
4. Tebow Time: I'm a believer. It often isn't pretty, or logical, but it keeps happening. Missed field goals, crazy fumbles, people running out of bounds when they have no godly reason to, calling all-out blitzes to start overtime and Tim Tebow's clutch playmaking have conspired to make the Broncos a wacky, last-minute team.
They just find ways to win. Against the odds. And I feel like its not over yet. Their confidence is high and if a few things fall their way, who knows? Any given Sunday. I can see a scenario where it can happen, and have a feeling that scenario plays out.