Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos and the NFL's 5 Deadliest Ground Games

Hunter AnsleyCorrespondent IIIDecember 18, 2011

Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos and the NFL's 5 Deadliest Ground Games

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    With so many quarterbacks currently chasing and breaking NFL records, it's easy to forget about the league's stronger ground games.

    Teams that play keep away between the tackles and shy away from raiding the air are often deemed less athletic, less likely to break a big play.

    But that's not always true, as evidenced by these five offenses. Sure, they may favor the run, but that doesn't mean they're afraid of the home run.

Denver Broncos

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    This one's easy.

    Yes, you can blame the strength of Denver's ground game on their lack of a passing game (31st in the NFL in passing yards), but no matter where you allot the credit, it's hard to deny that this is a vicious rushing attack.

    Tim Tebow's heady play and powerful style have given an NFL team the chance to do something not many have—run the option.

    Willis McGahee has been rejuvenated as a starting back, spearheading the ground game in Denver along with Tebow and a couple of castoffs in Lance Ball and Jeremiah Johnson. 

    The Broncos were dealt a blow when Knowshon Moreno was lost for the season, but since Tebow's taken over, they've risen to tops in the NFL with over 155 rushing yards per game, after managing just over 100 with Kyle Orton under center.

    As long as the defense continues to smother opponents, Denver should be in position to rely on their ground game and literally run out the clock on the other AFC West squads.

Houston Texans

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    Houston's played through a few quarterbacks this season, and they've spent too many minutes without the services of receiver Andre Johnson.

    But even after Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Texans are still 10-4, which is a major testament to their running backs.

    Arian Foster and Ben Tate have formed the league's most talented running back duo, combining for well over 1,700 yards on the ground, and adding another 600 through the air.

    With rookie quarterback TJ Yates starting to struggle, the Texans will have to lean even more heavily on Foster and Tate, and so far the pair has proven to be up to the task.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Eagles haven't done much right this season, but if there's one bright spot, it's the ground game. The Eagles currently rank third in the NFL behind the stellar running of LeSean McCoy, who has solidified himself as one of the league's best backs.

    He's rushed his way into second place in the NFL, behind Maurice Jones-Drew, gaining almost five yards per carry.

    Throw in the fact that the Eagles boast the NFL's all-time leading rusher from the QB position in Michael Vick, and it's pretty clear that stopping the ground game is a focus of all opposing defenses.

    Of course, if the offensive line hadn't taken the first part of the season off, the Eagles could have been one of the best overall teams in the league, as well as one of the strongest running teams.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Until Adrian Peterson leaves or retires, the Vikings will hold a reserved spot on lists like these. Peterson is the league's most punishing runner, and he's been one of the most consistent in the past decade. 

    Even with a patchwork offensive line working in front of him and a growing list of nagging injuries, Peterson has created enough space to pick up double-digit rushing touchdowns for the fifth time in his five NFL seasons.

    And, if that wasn't enough, his injuries have given time and room to second-year back Toby Gerhart, who's shown some pop of his own. 

Carolina Panthers

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    When you pay DeAngelo Williams the kind of money the Carolina Panthers paid him this offseason, you expect to have a strong ground game.

    When you also have Jonathan Stewart in the backfield, a man who, when healthy, can find unseen room in short-yardage and goal-line situations with the best of them, you really expect to have a strong ground game.

    And if you add a rookie quarterback who runs a sub-4.6 40-yard dash and stands at 6'5" and over 240 pounds and has broken just about every rookie quarterback rushing record in existence, you don't accept anything less than a top-five rushing attack.

    That's exactly what the Panthers have right now, and with Newton in just his first year, things will only get better from here.