Tim Tebow’s Broncos Advance Despite the Odds
Despite the odds against him, Tim Tebow has really made something of the season for the Denver Broncos. After helping his team to turn around its 1-5 start to the season to finish 8-8—good enough for the AFC West Division—he then found a way to win the wild-card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Not bad for a quarterback whose play under center has been wildly unpredictable.
With the win, the Broncos will travel to New England to take on the top-seeded Patriots in a game that will be a rematch of their Week 15 showdown where the Pats destroyed the Broncos 41-23.
The Broncos' defense is without a doubt eager to have a rematch against a Patriots team that embarrassed them earlier this season. This is their chance to show that they have gelled into an elite unit that can lead their team to victory against the odds.
Tim Tebow will also be looking for redemption as a quarterback in this game. The first time these two teams met, Tebow completed just 50 percent of his passes for 194 yards and no touchdowns. As a runner he made a much more positive difference, chewing up enough ground to earn 93 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Eli Manning Leads the Giants Back to Lambeau
After an entire season of terrible play by their running backs (they were last in the league), the Giants catapulted out of the backfield to gain 172 yards on the ground against Atlanta’s stingy rushing defense. Eli Manning took full advantage of the openings caused by the unexpected run game, tacking on another 277 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
The Giants must now take on the top-seeded Green Bay Packers for the second time this season. The first time these two teams met, the Pack eked out a 38-35 win thanks to a last-second Mason Crosby field goal.
After winning this third game in a row, the Giants have got to be feeling pretty optimistic as they prepare for Lambeau Field.
After all, they were one of a handful of teams to play the Packers extremely close in their first meeting during the regular season. Eli Manning had a field day against the porous Packer defense, throwing for 347 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
The Giants were also one of only six teams to intercept Aaron Rodgers during the regular season, a fact that will have them hungry for more come Sunday.
This weekend, the Broncos and the Giants will both have the opportunity to take revenge against a team that beat them in the regular season by knocking them out of the playoffs.
Both of the upcoming games will be different from the original matchups in the sense that the games will be played in the opposite locations to where they were for the regular season. The Broncos and Giants were both the home team when they first faced their foes, but now the tables will be turned.
At this point, the regular season is behind all of the teams involved. Nevertheless, those games will give fuel to the losers from those original matchups; the Broncos and the Giants will certainly carry huge chips on their shoulders as they visit the homes of their respective nemeses.
Can those vengeful feelings and the sheer desire to win overcome the loss of home-field advantage and the hunger that the Patriots and the Packers feel to advance in the playoffs?
Will Tebow Exact His Revenge?
When it comes down to it, the odds are pretty high that Tim Tebow is going to have a more self-satisfying game, while Eli Manning has a better chance of actually winning his game.
The first time Tebow faced the Patriots, he was more or less shut down from a passing perspective. He was able to find some success on the ground, but that was possibly more because the Broncos were playing a trick offensive scheme than because Tebow is a fantastic running back stand-in.
Only four weeks have passed, but Tebow has shown a lot of growth as a quarterback in the interim. Each week he seems to have a slightly better grasp of ball placement through the air. His completion percentage is still abysmal, but when he does complete it is effective. He’s also clearly starting to build a rapport with his receivers, which takes time to evolve.
All that adds up to Tebow likely putting together a better personal game against the Patriots than he did the last time they met. He will be helped along by a Patriots defense that has been notoriously soft against the pass all season, and which will now be playing a more conservative defense against the run to curb that aspect of Tebow’s game.
Can Manning Pull Off the Upset?
Eli Manning and the Giants, on the other hand, had nothing to be ashamed of when they faced the Packers the first time. Eli Manning had one of his better games of the season, as did the Giants running back tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
You could argue that the Giants defense should bear the blame for the loss, but at the same time a realist will recognize that New York was put in the unenviable position of standing before one of the best quarterbacks in the league while he was on a hot streak.
No man can sustain that kind of superhuman play, however, and all things considered it appears that Aaron Rodgers may be cooling down at exactly the right time for the Giants. Compared to the majority of his season, Rodgers has been struggling a bit in the weeks leading up to the playoffs.
Manning also had a small dip in his productivity, but the difference between the Giants and the Packers is that Manning has had the past two weeks to get himself back into the groove, whereas Rodgers has been off the field.
What Does it All Mean?
One thing is certain in the divisional round of the playoffs: Fans are in for some electrifying football.
Can Denver win against the Patriots if Tebow has a good game?
All things considered it’s a definite possibility, but I wouldn’t suggest that you bet money on them upsetting New England.
Tom Brady will do his utmost to turn the game into a shootout, and Denver just isn’t equipped offensively to keep up. It’s also worth noting that Brady doesn’t have an ankle injury slowing him down the way Ben Roethlisberger did. That injury alone was a big game changer that worked.
In the NFC, things are looking a little bit brighter for Manning and the Giants.
There is a well-documented history of teams who play lights-out during the regular season resting starters and then exiting the playoffs early when teams who have fought tooth and nail each week take them by surprise.
The Giants are hoping to be one of those teams, and if history in the NFL is any indicator, they have a reasonably good chance of accomplishing that goal.
Add that to the more recent history that the Giants have made against the Packers in the postseason, and there should be reason for concern in Wisconsin. I still wouldn’t put money down on the Giants, but it’s a much closer call here.