Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Ching Divisional Round NFL Playoffs Picks: Broncos @ Patriots -14

Saturday 8:00 PM EST
Broncos @ Patriots -14
Hexagram 38: Running Counter To
The last time the coins gave me this reading was in Week 14 for the Patriots Redskins game (http://daodesam.blogspot.com/2011/12/i-ching-week-14-nfl-picks.html). I joked at the time that I was ‘running counter to logic’ in picking my ‘Skins against the Patriots in a game I was going to and wanted very badly. The Patriots won a hard fought back and forth game and fell just short of covering of the spread. New England has the reputation for blowing teams out, but just 5 of their 13 wins this season have been by the 15 or more points required for covering this spread. The only one of these 5 wins that came against a playoff team was the first time these teams met on December 18th.
The best case for taking the Patriots in this game is that they  have already taken the Broncos and Tebow to the woodshed once this year in that trip to Denver. However, this game was a lot closer than the final score would have us believe. With 9:00 left to go in the first half, the Broncos led 17-7. New England proceeded to run off 20 straight points before the final whistle of the second quarter finally mercifully blew. One of Brady’s touchdown drives in this span was aided by a Tebow fumble deep in his own territory that gave the ball right back to the Patriot offense with all momentum in hand. New England only outscored Denver 14-7 in the second half, so without the disastrous stretch of play in the second quarter, the Broncos kept up pretty well with the Patriots.
New England’s earlier games against the Redskins and Broncos earlier in the season show their stark strengths and weaknesses. Their weakness is that their defense can’t stop any offense in the league from moving the ball and scoring points. They were second to last in the NFL in pass yards allowed and gave up over 21 points a game. Their strength is their explosive offense that is usually good enough to make their horrid defense irrelevant.
Tim Tebow has already shown that he can move the ball against the Patriots and their defense. Coming off the best performance in his career last week, New England will have a decision to make. Do they play similarly to the Steelers and stack the box to shut down the run and make Tim Tebow beat them with his arm against man coverage or do they play a more balanced approach? Either way, I think the Broncos will be able to maintain long drives, keeping Brady and crew off the field for long stretches, and score enough points to keep the game close. And if they game is close at the end, then you can never count Tim Tebow out. I like the chances for another memorable finish tonight.

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