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Patriots-Broncos prediction

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Jan. 14, 2012 @ 3:41 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The Patriots have a laundry list of things going for them heading into Saturday night's playoff game against the Broncos.

  • They beat Denver 41-23 a month ago.
  • They will have MLB Brandon Spikes back, and likely S Patrick Chung, which should improve the defense.
  • OG Logan Mankins and OT Sebastian Vollmer also appear to be healthy, possibly making Saturday's game the first time the team has been at "full strength" since the beginning of the season.
  • The Patriots are playing at home, a place where they rarely lose.
  • The weather is supposed to be cold, and Tom Brady has had a lot of success in wintry weather.
  • The Pats have a lot of motivation to avoid a third straight one-and-done playoff run.
  • And simply, there is more talent on the Patriots' sideline.

What do the Patriots not have going for them? Well, for one thing, they don't have Tim Tebow, who helped shock the world last week by upsetting the Steelers. They also have come out flat the past two years in their opening playoff games after coming off a bye.

It will be crucial for the Patriots to come out firing on offense and, on defense, to stop the Broncos' rushing attack early to avoid digging themselves a hole. The Pats showed lots of poise and resilience at the end of the season, coming back from multiple deficits, but it's a little harder in the playoffs.

Like the Week 15 game, this matchup comes down to the fact that the Broncos do not have enough on defense to slow down the Patriots, and Tebow, for as sensational as he has been, will not be able to counter Brady's attack, punch for punch. Things tend to even out come playoff time, so it might not be a blowout, but the Patriots should be heading to their first AFC championship game since the 2007 season.

Prediction: Patriots 38, Broncos 24

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