Last week, the Denver Broncos shocked the football world by not only beating them, but beating them with Tim Tebow’s arm. The Steelers had the top ranked defense of the 2011 season, and they represented a unique challenge for the Broncos coaches and Tim Tebow. They rose to the challenge and pulled out a thrilling overtime win.
While last week’s win is something to marvel at, the Broncos playing the Patriots is a whole new ball game. In fact, the Patriots are virtually the exact opposite of the Steelers. The Steelers’ offense has been hampered by Ben Roethlisberger’s injury. The Patriots, on the other hand, have a healthy Tom Brady, and they’re attack is as potent as ever. Where the Steelers had the best defense in all the land, the Patriots unit doesn’t even pretend to be decent.
So, what will the Broncos have to do to beat the Patriots in New England? Score baby score.
When these teams met in the regular season, the Broncos were able to keep pace with the Patriots for a very short time. Early on, it appeared that the Broncos’ style of play would keep them in the game, but it wasn’t meant to be.
As with many cases, the second quarter in their prior matchup with the Patriots killed the Broncos’ hopes of victory. In the first, third, and fourth quarters, the Patriots scored 7 points apiece. In the second quarter of that game, the Patriots posted 20 points, and it was plenty to simply pull away from the Broncos’ low-power offense.
The keys to a Broncos’ victory are simple and borderline cliché. First, they have to keep Tom Brady and company off the field. The way to do that is to run the football. Luckily for the Broncos, that’s a facet of their offense they have no problem executing. Next, they have to score when they have the ball. Kicking short field goals kill morale, and that won’t get it done against the Patriots. When the Broncos enter the redzone, they need 7 points. Anything less is a failure and hurts their chances of winning.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos have to get off the field. This goes back to keeping Tom Brady off the field, and they need to do everything in their power to avoid allowing the Patriots to move the chains on third and long. Turnovers are also key for the Broncos. Let’s be honest. The Broncos’ offense isn’t able to march up and down a football field with consistency. It’s a clock management offense. The Broncos’ defense can help them out immensely if they could give their offense the ball on the Patriots’ side of the field a couple of times.
There’s no doubt that the Patriots are the better team. That being the case, it just takes one game in the playoffs to send a better team packing. So in a nutshell, this is similar to what the Broncos’ coaches will be telling their players before the game tonight.