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Patriots-Broncos prediction

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Dec. 18, 2011 @ 11:48 a.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

And you thought Patriots-Jets was overhyped? The week leading up to today's Patriots-Broncos matchup has been a media frenzy. Tebow vs. Brady, Tebow vs. Gronkowski, Tebow vs. the world — you get the point.

What Tebow has been doing in Denver has captured the attention of the football landscape unlike anything we've seen before during the Broncos' six-game win streak, but the Patriots do not provide a very good matchup for the Broncos.

Denver's defense has been better, but the highest-ranked offense it has played during this current win streak has been the Chargers', and the Broncos gave up 32 points to the Vikings two weeks ago.

Expect Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense to come out firing early to put Tebow on his heels, forcing the Broncos' signalcaller to have to throw early, instead of waiting until the last two minutes to turn it on. The Patriots' running game hasn't been very effective, but if they can build a lead in the second half, look for them to chew up clock with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. When they have needed to run the ball to clinch a win, the Patriots have done well.

Keeping Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil out of the backfield will be key for a Patriots O-line that is playing its best right now. It will also be interesting to see who steps up at receiver with Deion Branch out. Can Chad Ochocinco finally step up, or will it be Tiquan Underwood? TE Aaron Hernandez may be the beneficiary of that.

And will the Broncos have an answer for Rob Gronkowski? Like most teams, the Broncos don't have many good matchup options for Gronk.

Bill Belichick's poor passing defense gets a break against the inaccurate Tebow, but the front seven will need to contain his running ability and RB Willis McGahee. If the Broncos can score early and control time of possession, they can keep it close, but as we have seen often this season, Brady will prove to be too much.

Prediction: Patriots 35, Broncos 21

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