2 Belief Systems: Broncos vs. 49ers; Mysterious Ways vs. Old Ways

Paul WardContributor IIIDecember 12, 2011

Tebow and/or Team Work
Tebow and/or Team WorkJustin Edmonds/Getty Images

Alright. Okay. Enough already. I believe in God, maker of all things visible and invisible. I'm turning in my Atheists of the World Unite card.

And to all the pundits who have said Tebow "can't sustain it," I would say that we are now past the point of doubt. He has sustained it. If the streak stops now, he has still done something unusual, and very interesting.  

At the least — if he wasn't this before he is now — he is the critical enzyme for a process that has transformed routine confidence into a strong conviction and that into an expectation and that into a nearly predictable result.

Sure, it's all a matter of group psychology. Look up Albert Bandura's Bobo doll experiment; the difference is that in Denver, players not only learn aggression by imitating each other but they also learn success.  And that might explain how this team is greater than the sum of the parts and how, for example, Demaryius Thomas drops three balls, but when providence calls, he catches the touchdown and then in overtime catches an unearthly first down.

It also helps explain how Tebow himself performs best in the fourth quarter. That's when the alchemy happens. That's when the new norm takes over.

It's like your sprinklers, the new Bronco norm is on a timer.  

The only problem is how do you explain Marion Barber not running out of bounds, and then making his own clutch-play catch. And then fumbling. That's the Lord working in mysterious ways. 

But now, speaking of mortals, let's turn to the 49ers. They believe. They're convinced. They have their own body of work on which to build an expectation. If you want to see excellence over time, look at their special teams.

But it's the whole team that hasn't reached Step 4: the nearly predictable result. It's not a matter of Smith vs Tebow, it's that success for the 49ers is still uncertain. Not everybody believes. It's not a norm.  

Certainly not like the old days when you believed in the trinity of Walsh, Montana and Rice. Or substitute Young.  And then you took that belief to Vegas.

These days you look at the 49ers for what they are — a good team that beat a few other good teams and some other not very good teams. And now they lost to a bad team.

After the Ram game, I had a bad feeling. Here's a secondary made up of people pulled off pallet-duty at Trader Joe's and the score said so. Sure Aldon Smith had a great game, and Alex Smith had his best stat game of the season. But I didn't have the feeling I was looking at a great team.

In that game I looked at Vernon Davis and I wanted to cry. Coming into Week 14, Pro Football Focus gave him a negative rating on five Sundays. Season totals coming into Arizona: five touchdowns, three fumbles, five drops. And look at some of those drops.

In the game against Arizona, except for one ball, did you see Vernon Davis anywhere on the field? Did you look under the carpet? You also wonder about Braylon Edwards not looking around to see that the packet was arriving.

And if a Labrador Retriever came bouncing up to him at the end of the third quarter, with the ball in its mouth, would Delanie Walker have got it and held on?

Okay, now these are all good players, and everybody makes mistakes, but the difference is that there's no saving grace at The Stick; there's nobody to save the day. No Eli Manning for sure.

Gore might be one person who could play catalyst. But would he?

Meanwhile, Brother Tebow is doing it. His team is doing it. There's nothing Godly about it really. Nothing miraculous. It's as if a group of people got together and said "let's go to the moon."  And then they did.