Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Saturday, 1/14/12, 8:00 PM EST, TV: CBS
Opening Point Spread: New England -14
Current Betting Line: New Orleans -13.5
Opening Total: 51.5
Current Total: 50
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
When the Tim Tebow hype seemed to be at its peak and the Denver Broncos were riding a season-high six-game winning streak, it was the New England Patriots who sent him and his team in the opposite direction with a 41-23 loss. The top-seeded Patriots (13-3) will now get the opportunity to bounce Tebow and the fourth-seeded Broncos (9-8) out of the playoffs and officially end their season in the rematch at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.
New England (-13.5, O/U 50) has dropped three straight postseason games dating back to a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII nearly four years ago. The Patriots have fallen each of the past two years at home in the divisional round, so they will be extra motivated to avoid a third straight playoff loss at Gillette.
Denver is coming off a thrilling 29-23 overtime victory at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, which may have propelled Tebow-Mania to an all-time high. Tebow’s postseason debut was nothing short of spectacular, ending with a dramatic game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on the first offensive play of OT.
While Tebow will have Thomas available, he will be without one of his favorite targets in WR Eric Decker, who suffered a sprained MCL against the Steelers. Decker only made two catches in the last three games of the regular season combined, but the Broncos lost all three of those games before ending their skid with their playoff win over Pittsburgh.
New England QB Tom Brady was 1-5 lifetime vs. Denver before completing 23 of 34 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 15 meeting. Brady also rushed for one touchdown while Tebow had two scores on the ground and carried the ball 12 times for 93 yards to go along with 194 passing yards. The key to that game was three lost fumbles for the Broncos, who kept up with the Patriots for most of the first half before letting the game literally slip away from them.
With Tebow under center, Denver’s offense is not really equipped to take advantage of New England’s 31st-ranked pass defense, which surrendered 293.9 yards per game during the regular season. But the Patriots will also have a not-so-secret weapon on their side as well after signing former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels as an offensive assistant this past week.
McDaniels may have believed in Tebow’s ability more than anybody else coming out of college in drafting both him and Thomas with two first-round picks in the 2010 NFL draft. He also played a part in developing Brady into a record-breaking QB as New England’s offensive coordinator in 2007 when the future Hall of Famer threw a league-record 50 touchdown passes.
The Patriots have won two of the last three meetings with Denver both straight-up and against the spread, scoring 41 points in each of the victories. They trailed at halftime of their last two regular-season games though and have seen their last six games go OVER the total. The UNDER is 3-1-1 in the past five meetings, with the lone OVER taking place in the most recent one.
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