NEPD Staff: Doug Kyed
The season flew by, last weekend dragged on, but it’s finally here, it’s playoff time!
Saturday night, we’ll find out if the Patriots are one and done again, or if this is the year they’ll make it past round two, past the Broncos and on to the AFC Championship game.
The Patriots are currently 13.5 point favorites, so why am I slightly afraid of the outcome of this game? I guess it all comes down to two words: Tebow Time. The first time these two teams faced off, Tebow Time came in the first quarter, and the Patriots had no problem shutting him down the rest of the game.
The Patriots defense did their job forcing a couple turnovers and got the Broncos away from their game. The big question this week is, can they do it again?
Here are some things I’ll be looking for in Saturday night’s game:
DON’T LET THE DEFENSE GET CAUGHT OFF GUARD
We saw it at the end of the Steelers game on the final play. The Steelers were expecting run all the way and Tebow chucked it deep for the game winning touchdown. The Patriots need to go into this game ready to defend a balanced attack just like they would against any other team. If they rely too much on stopping the Denver run game, they’ll get burned on deep passes to talented receiver Demaryius Thomas. If they try to key in on Tebow’s passes too much, they’ll get burned by Willis McGahee and Tebow’s legs like they did in the first quarter of week 15.
THE SECONDARY HAS TO PLAY THEIR BEST GAME OF THE YEAR
All season, the Patriots’ secondary has been the team’s biggest weakness. Last weekend, they looked very good with Devin McCourty playing free safety next to Patrick Chung. I would like to see that again, but I’m not expecting it. I think the Pats will go back to zone, where McCourty can play to his strengths at cornerback with his eyes on Tebow rather than his WR.
Like I said though, I’d actually like to see McCourty at FS. That would allow Kyle Arrington and Sterling Moore to play out wide, Julian Edelman in the slot and Chung and McCourty back at safety. That might be the Patriots best bet at secondary.
Luckily, not only are the Patriots facing a QB with a constantly low completions %, but they’re facing one of the league’s worst WR units, especially if Eric Decker is out as he’s expected to be. Intercepting Tebow has been a problem all year, one of his strengths as a QB is that he typically only throws it where his guys can get it. I’d like to see the Patriots pick Tebow off at least once this game.