New England vs. Denver: 5 Bold Predictions for Saturday

MichaelContributor IIJanuary 12, 2012

New England vs. Denver: 5 Bold Predictions for Saturday

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    We've gotten to the Divisional Round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs. There are intriguing match-ups throughout the entire weekend, including the Denver Broncos visiting the New England Patriots.

    After a shocking upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tim Tebow and the Broncos have more confidence than possibly any team in the NFL. I'm not saying this confidence will translate into a victory for Denver, but it will definitely catch the interest of many fans around the country.

    Both teams met back in Week 15 of the NFL, with New England winning by a wide margin.

    With the confidence of the Broncos and the suspect defense from New England, could Tim Tebow show some magic again? Will Tom Brady and company end the Patriots' playoff losing streak and send Denver back to the Mile High City with a loss?

    Here are five bold predictions for Saturday night's game:

Denver Will Rush for over 200 Yards

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    Everybody is aware of the questionable defense the Patriots put out on the field week in and week out. Denver leads the NFL with an average of 164.5 rushing yards per game, and I do not see New England's defense holding them under that number.

    Willis McGahee was held in check by the Pittsburgh defense. I'm sure he can't wait to face the Pats and have an opportunity to put up some big numbers.

    After watching the Patriots all season, there is only one way to describe this defense: severely bend but don't break.

    Tim Tebow will be run first, pass second and Willis McGahee should surpass the 100 yard mark.

    Denver will accumulate over 200 yards rushing but all of those yards won't turn into points, necessarily.

Tom Brady Will Throw Five Touchdown Passes

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    Patriots QB Tom Brady is dangerous no matter who he plays, but when he has an extra week to prepare, the opponent is in trouble.

    Brady averages 316.7 passing yards per game. He can attribute some of those yards to the athletic routes made by his fantastic receiving core.

    Although Brady only threw two touchdown passes back in Week 15, the bye week will have the Patriots offense clicking on all cylinders.

    Do the Broncos focus on Welker? Gronkowski? Hernandez? The truth is, Denver will most likely not stop the New England offense. Brady wants redemption for the last few seasons and the All-Pro quarterback will have his way on Saturday.

    The question is, can Denver match Brady's five touchdown passes and stay in the game?

Tim Tebow Will Gain over 300 Total Yards

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    Yes, 300 total yards doesn't seem like a bold prediction for an NFL quarterback. But, we are clearly not talking about a typical NFL quarterback.

    Tebow threw for a season-high 316 passing yards against Pittsburgh last week in the Wild Card Round and ran for 50 more yards.

    I think Tebow will come back to reality a little bit on Saturday night. Although his passing yards will drop, he will be able to run the ball successfully, most likely accumulating close to 100 yards.

    Those extra rushing yards will make up for his mediocre stats through the air and propel him just over 300 total yards.

Gronkowski and Welker Combine for over 200 Yards Receiving

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    Tom Brady's two favorite targets will be key in the Patriots' offensive success. All year, these two have separated themselves from the pack and kept opposing defenses confused.

    Last game in Denver, tight end Aaron Hernandez led the way in yards and receptions. The Broncos must adjust their game plan to keep an eye on the second-year threat from Florida.

    With running backs Steven Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead all playing well, the Broncos must respect the run more than last game. By respecting the run, Brady will have bigger windows to hit these guys down the field.

    Gronk and Welker are two of the best possession receivers in the league, and Brady will utilize them all night.

Patriots Will Win by More Than Two Touchdowns

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    New England will give up a big chunk of yards on Saturday night; everyone knows that. What this comes down to is this: will Denver be able to turn red zone trips into touchdowns?

    My answer is no. The Pats are in the top half of the league when it comes to red zone defense, and they are second in the league in INT's.

    Sure, New England will give up its usual 400 yards, but these yards won't turn into touchdowns. New England scores a touchdown on over 73 percent of their red zone trips in their last three games.

    Brady will put up MVP-type statistics and the Patriots will cruise to a comfortable victory.

    Final Score: 35-17 New England