Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas caught Tim Tebow’s pass and raced for an 80-yard overtime game-winning touchdown, sending the Pittsburgh Steelers home and the nation into a frenzy. Photo by Joe Mahoney (AP) By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
Tebow time looks to drop bombs on New England If anybody wondered who is the most popular player in the NFL right now, don’t think to hard, because it is clearly Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Who didn’t see Tebow drop that bomb on the first play of overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are still stunned by the way that game ended?The Steelers are also stunned that Tebow, who hasn’t been able to hit the broadside of a barn for weeks, dropped a number of bombs on them in that game. Tebow threw for 316 yards on only 10 competitions. In today’s NFL, where most quarterbacks do not attack down field on a consistent basis, it is unheard of to average 31.6 yards per completion. It appears that the Broncos have finally figured something out. It is clear that Tebow struggles with the shorter timing patterns. Those are passes where the quarterback has to make quick decisions and be extremely accurate. But legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway told Tebow that he needed to pull the trigger, and that’s just what Tebow did. He launched the ball down field a number of times and let his receivers make plays. That was the perfect style of play against defenses that crowd the line of scrimmage with the bulk of their defenders. The Steelers brought both safeties up for most of the game to stop the Broncos running game, which led the league in the regular season. The Steelers were able to stop the Broncos from running all over the place, but they must not have thought that Tebow would be able to take advantage of the one-on-one coverage deep downfield. Tebow could have been taking advantage of this all season, as most defenses ignore his passing abilities and try to stop the run. He picked a great time to figure this out, because it is win or go home, and he just sent the Steelers home. It will be interesting to see how the New England Patriots defend the Broncos this Saturday night. Do they roll the safeties up and put nine in the box to stop the run like every other defense does? But that would allow Tebow to launch more bombs. With a receiver like Demaryius Thomas, who is 6’3”, 235 pounds and has blazing speed, the Patriots may want to keep their safeties deep. If the Patriots do keep their safeties back, then that would allow the Broncos to run the ball all over them, just like they did in their week 15 match up against the Patriots. The Patriots won that game going away, but the Broncos were running all over them and were in the game until they started turning the ball over. The Broncos rushed for 252 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry in the 41-23 loss. Take away the three Broncos turnovers and that game goes down to the wire. The Patriots can expect more of the same, which could be a problem for them, as they are all offense but no defense. They are 31st in total defense, 17th against the run, and 31st against the pass. In their defense, they usually play with leads, so their opponents will pass the ball a lot to stay in the game (same for the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, who both have high powered offenses and sub par defenses), but even with that being said, their defense is pretty bad. Ever since the Patriots were caught cheating and heavily fined for video tapping other teams’ practices, they have not fielded a respectable defense. During their Super Bowl runs, when they won three out of four titles, they did it with sound defense and an offense that managed the game. They did not throw the ball like they do today. But now that the video cameras have been shut off, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has not looked like the defensive mastermind that everybody thought he was. And without great defenses, the Patriots have not won a playoff game since 2007, the year the Patriots were sanctioned for video taping other teams’ practices. The Patriots have become a pass it all the time team without playing much defense, which is one reason why they have been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round in three out of the last four years. The one year that it did not happen, they did not make the playoffs. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been breaking league records left and right, but this was not the style of play when the Patriots were unbeatable in the playoffs. This style of play has been very beatable, and this team is no different from their team a year ago, when the New York Jets went into New England with a good defense and running game, just like the Broncos have, and clobbered the Patriots. But one thing that does work in the Patriots favor is experience. They have a lot of veteran players while the Broncos are one of the youngest teams in the league. Veteran teams do not turn the ball over while young teams do. In their week 15 match up the Broncos turned the ball over three times, which led to 13 points, while the Patriots did not turn it over at all, and that was the ball game. Take old school (49ers) over new school (Saints) football Anybody who plays John Madden football on Playstation or Xbox knows that on a video game you can pass the ball like crazy and run up the score with ease. But in real life, that’s just not how football is played. Well the Saints, just like the Packers and Patriots, have brought video game football to real life, as all three of those teams have been setting passing and scoring records while not playing much defense at all. This is not the football that we’ve all grown up on. Some fans love it, but a lot of fans long for the days of a bust you in the mouth running game while playing bone-crushing defense. Well that’s what the San Francisco 49ers have. They play the style of football that made us all love the game. The style before all the rule changes that say a defensive back cannot lay a hand on a receiver downfield or a pass rusher better not come close to a quarterback after he has thrown the ball. Fans have fallen in love with this big play pass happy league, which is why most people are favoring the Saints over the 49ers on Saturday afternoon, even though the game is in San Francisco. But remember, defenses wins championships. It has been said many times and it has never been proven wrong. That saying does not mean that the best defensive team will win it all, but it does mean that a team without a defense is not going to win it. Even the ’99 Saint Louis Rams, who were the greatest show on turf, had a very good defense, and that defense outplayed their offense in the playoffs. The 49ers back in the ‘80s were known for their offensives, but they had Hall of Fame players on defense, and when they won the title with Steve Young in the 1994, they went out and bought a great defense through free agency. The Dallas Cowboys were led by quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmit Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin, all in the Hall of Fame, but they had some of the sickest defenses ever seen. John Elway, Terrell Davis, and Shannon Sharpe led a great offense to Super Bowl victories after the ’97 and ’98 seasons. During their second Super Bowl run, their defense only allowed one touchdown during their three playoff games. In recent years, the Steelers, Patriots, and Tampa Bay Bucs have all won Super Bowls, and all played great defense. Even the Packers last year had a nasty front seven that helped them win a title. The point is that defense does win championships, and on Saturday, only one defense will be showing up in San Francisco, and that will be a big advantage for the 49ers. The 49ers finished 2nd in the league in points allowed and 4th in total defense. The Saints were 13th in points allowed but 24th overall. The key to this game for the 49ers is to win the turnover battle and they will win this game. As long as they do not shoot themselves in the foot with fumbles and interceptions, they’ll be able to play that tough defense and run the ball. The 49ers have only turned the ball over 10 times all season, fewest in the league, while their turnover +/- is a +28, the best in the league. The Saints are a -3. Giants pass rush is the key vs. the Packers The New York Giants have faced a passing game like the Packers before. In Super Bowl XLII they faced a Patriots team that set a number of passing and scoring records, but the Giants pass rush was in the Patriots’ offensive backfield all game long. They drove Tom Brady into the ground over and over and they danced at the end of the night.The Giants are facing a similar opponent in the Packers on Sunday afternoon, and their game plan needs to be the same if they want to knock off another offensive juggernaut. If the Giants can get after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers then they will be able to limit the Packers scoring, which will allow the Giants to run the ball on offense, which has been one of their strengths over the past few weeks. When the Giants get their running game rolling, it makes their passing game that much more deadly. Giants receiver Victor Cruz has been lighting it up all season long, and last week against the Atlanta Falcons, receiver Hakeem Nicks had no problem running through the Falcons’ secondary. Defensively the Packers are last in the league in total defense and in passing defense. If the Giants can get to Rodgers and keep the scoring down then it will allow their offense to impose their will on a bad Packers defense. But if the Giants pass rush cannot get to Rodgers, then this game will be a shootout, and the Giants are not going to outscore Packers. Texans at Ravens, nothing but defense The Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens match up on Sunday morning will feature nothing but defense. The Texans have the second ranked defense and the Ravens are third. The Texans feature a rookie at quarterback while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been serviceable, but never elite. This game may look like LSU vs. Alabama. Take the Ravens. Playing at home and they have playoff experience.
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