New England Patriots (13-3) vs Denver Broncos (8-8)
Or as I like to call it….”The Ratings Bowl”.
The New England Patriots already own a victory over the Denver Broncos this season. During Week 15, the Patriots went into Denver and blew out the Broncos 41-23 behind Tom Brady’s 320 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tim Tebow had himself a respectable performance, throwing for 194 yards and rushing for 2 scores on the ground. The key to New England winning that game was turnovers. The Broncos had a 16-7 lead at one point, but 3 turnovers in the first half led to 13 Patriots points. New England never looked back after that.
Tim Tebow and the Broncos are coming off a huge upset victory over the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Tebow was able to throw 2 touchdowns and run for 1 more against the seemingly indestructible Steelers “Steel Curtain” defense. Now he gets one more chance to throw against the second worst defense in the entire NFL this Saturday. Perhaps the magic of “Tebow-Mania” will strike again.
Fun Fact: Tom Brady currently has a postseason record of 14-5, which is tied with Terry Bradshaw for the best playoff record of any quarterback who has started a minimum of 15 games.
Big Question: Despite his flawed throwing mechanics, can Tebow have his way with the Patriots dreadful pass defense on Saturday?
Final Pick: I recently gave Tim Tebow a great deal of credit in my column “Tim Tebow: Prediction Killer”. He showed me in the win over Pittsburgh that he is not a flukey quarterback and he really can lead the Broncos franchise.
I have officially run out of credit for Mr. Tebow.
When I made my predictions for the Steelers/Broncos game last week, I said there was no chance the Broncos could defeat Pittsburgh. Denver then proceeded to win in overtime and made me look stupid.
Well you know what? I am going bold yet again. There is NO CHANCE the Broncos beat Brady and the New England Patriots this weekend.
Beating a one-legged Roethlisberger and a depleted Steelers defense is one thing, but going on the road and outperforming the offensive perfection that’s Tom Brady is another. The Patriots have to many weapons on offense for the Broncos to deal with. Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker are all capable of winning the game on their own.
The Patriots defense is pretty pathetic though. Denver isn’t going to have the hardest time putting up points against the Patriots shoddy secondary. I just don’t see any scenario playing out in which Tim Tebow scores more points than Tom Brady. After having the last week off to heal up and reflect on their lack of playoff success in recent years, I expect a motivated Patriots squad to come out guns blazing and ready to put an end to Tebow-Mania….at least for now. Final Score: Patriots 34, Broncos 21
Houston Texans (11-6) vs Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Now comes the real fun….
The Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens just had one of their best seasons in years, finishing 12-4 and winning the highly competitive AFC North. Baltimore was led by their star running back Ray Rice who finished the season with the most yards from scrimmage in the league (1364 rushing, 704 receiving). The defense was ranked third overall, finishing second against the run and fourth against the pass. With Ray Lewis missing 1/4 of the season due to injury, linebacker Terrell Suggs took over as the main force of the defense, leading the league with 7 forced fumbles.
The Houston Texans showed last week against the Bengals that despite not having regular starter Matt Schaub behind center, the team could still be competitive and put big numbers on the board. Arian Foster dominated the ball on the ground on route to 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. T.J Yates only completed 11 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown, but that’s because the Texans constantly went with what was hot. What was hot on that day was the running game of Arian Foster.
Fun Fact: Houston and Baltimore were the only 2 defenses in the league to finish in the top 4 in every major defensive category this past season
Big Question: Can Arian Foster be a factor running against the second best rush defense in the league? (The last time these 2 teams met, Foster only ran for 49 yards)
Final Pick: I picked the Baltimore Ravens to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl at the start of the season and I won’t be abandoning that pick any time soon.
I feel for the Texans to be successful in this game, the offense will have to run through Arian Foster. He finished fifth in the league in rushing and is more than capable of breaking off a long run. It will be difficult against the Ravens run defense, but Foster is a special back who can do special things on the football field.
Speaking of special backs, look for Ravens running back Ray Rice to get a good dose of touches on Sunday. The team plays better when Rice is the main focal point of the offensive attack. Joe Flacco has postseason wins on his resume, but I wouldn’t trust him to constantly be airing the ball out against the Texans third ranked pass defense. Flacco will have starter Anquan Boldin back to throw the ball too, so he will at least have all of his weapons at his disposal.
I don’t think the Ravens defense is the least bit worried about T.J Yates beating them through the air. I believe their number one priority will be to make Arian Foster a non-factor in this game. Once Foster is out of the equation, the Texans will be easy pickings for Baltimore. Final Score: Baltimore 27, Texans 16