The Pittsburgh Steelers were 9 point favorites heading into their Wildcard Weekend matchup with the Denver Broncos. I’m sure many Patriots fans, like myself, were hopeful the Broncos would pull out a win because you’d rather face Tim Tebow than the Steelers. Well, it looks like our wish has been granted. One pass in overtime and it’s Tebow Time in New England.
Jerod Mayo and the defense need to be ready for anything on Saturday. Tebow has a newfound threat with his passing game. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
There are plenty of reasons why this is the best situation for the Patriots. For starters, Josh McDaniels will be on the Patriots staff again. Fitting that his first game pits him against a team he used to be the head coach of. John Fox is behind the helm in Denver now but I’m sure McDaniels can add some insights to help the Patriots match up.
It’s also helpful that the Pats have played, and beaten, the Broncos already this year. It was a Week 15, 41-23 win that locked up the AFC East for the team. Chad Ochocinco got his first, and only, touchdown pass of the year in that game. Maybe that means good things to come in the playoffs. We’ve been hearing, it feels like all season, that there’s a chance he’ll breakout in the post season.
Tom Brady is 2-6 in his career against Denver. It is the only team he has a losing record against. So that, added with the pressure of actually winning a playoff game, should create some added fuel for Brady. We know he strives to be perfect and this game will be no different.
The last time the Patriots won a playoff game was in 2007 and they made it all the way to the Super Bowl. With the number one seed in the AFC, this year’s road to the big game, goes through New England. That is, if they can find a way to win.
We saw against the Steelers that Tebow can throw the ball. I have never been so blown away by his ability to put the ball on target. Clearly all those warmup throws have a positive impact on his game. He’s been known to throw around 200 passes pre-game.
In the second quarter on Sunday he threw a 30 yard pass for a TD. Then just about three minutes later, he had a 58 yard bomb to Demaryius Thomas that would lead to his rushing TD. Not to mention his unbelievable 80 yard TD pass in overtime. He made a serious case for himself as an improving quarterback. So now he is a threat to run and throw the ball.
The Patriots’ secondary is going to have to be ready for Tebow’s new found skill. The Steelers’ safeties got burned too many times on Sunday, and the Patriots can’t be the Broncos’ next victims. In addition the defensive line is going to have to be ready for Tebow’s ability to run. I’ll be watching to see if the line can pressure and get some contact with Tebow and force him to fumble the ball.
I don’t have any doubt about Tom Brady’s ability to lead the Patriots to a win on Saturday night. I just don’t want it to become a shootout or for it to come down to a field goal by Matt Prater. With some rest and McDaniels on their side, I think the Patriots are better off in this matchup. They’re rejuvenated and have something to prove to themselves and the league. On any given Sunday one team can blow the minds of many, let’s see if the Patriots can prevent the Broncos from doing that again.