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Friday, January 13, 2012
Final Word: Broncos at Patriots

By Bill Williamson

Divisional Final Word: Saints-49ers | Broncos-Patriots | Texans-Ravens | Giants-Packers

Three nuggets of knowledge about the Denver Broncos-New England Patriots AFC divisional playoff game:

Tim Tebow
Will Tim Tebow play like he did against Pittsburgh or revert back to the last time he played New England?
Broncos have had success against Patriots: Yes, the Patriots beat the Broncos 26 days ago in Denver 41-23. However, the Broncos have had a lot of success against the Patriots in the recent past. New England is 4-6 (including the playoffs) against Denver in the Bill Belichick era. It’s New England’s worst record against any team in the NFL. The last time these teams met in the playoffs was six years ago to the day of Saturday’s meeting in the divisional round. Denver (in its last playoff win before the stunner over the Steelers) beat the Patriots 27-13. It was Belichick’s and New England quarterback Tom Brady's first postseason loss. Brady is 2-6 lifetime against Denver.

Playoff streaking the wrong way: The Patriots have lost two straight home playoff games. Before the road bump, which began in 2009, New England won 11 straight home playoff games. Something will give Saturday because Denver has lost three straight road playoff games. Denver is looking for its first road playoff win since the 1997 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. Denver went on to win its first Super Bowl title that year. The Broncos, who are big underdogs for the second straight week, are facing some long odds. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that had to play on a Saturday after playing the previous Sunday are 4-14 since 1990.

Broncos need to be more consistent this time: The Broncos' offense started strong against New England in Week 15. It had a 16-7 lead early in the second quarter before the Broncos fumbled three times in their own territory in the quarter. New England turned the miscues into 13 direct points. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Denver averaged 10.9 yards per play against New England and it averaged just 4.6 yards per play in the final three quarters. Denver quarterback Tim Tebow was sacked four times in the final three quarters. Denver had 218 yards in the first quarter but managed just 175 yards for the rest of the game. The Broncos obviously need a more sustained effort Saturday.