- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Soundbites from CBS analysts Boomer Esiason and Shannon Sharpe on Sunday's game between the Patriots and Broncos (as provided by CBS' media relations staff):
"It’s a fascinating matchup because you have one of the NFL’s worst defenses led by a man many say is one of the greatest defensive minds of all-time, Bill Belichick, against an unpredictable, spontaneous quarterback, Tim Tebow, who is playing at a level right now, especially in the fourth quarter, that is driving teams crazy. The fascinating part about this game is going to be how this New England defense, which has been so porous and bad for the entire year, is going to stop Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee, and the rest from doing what they’ve been really successful at over the last 6-7 weeks. What it will really come down to is whether or not Tom Brady can throw up his customary 35 points. If he does that, then the Patriots will win. If he 'stubs his toe,' like Marion Barber 'stubbed his toe' twice last week, then it could be a different outcome. While Tim Tebow and the defense are playing well, the really fascinating part about all of this is the amount of mistakes the opposing teams have been making against them at crunch time. I’ve never seen anything like it."
"I’m happy to see the Broncos relevant again. The past couple of years they haven’t been relevant. No one has been talking about them. They were talking about what a bad team and situation it was there, trading all their great players. Whether it’s Tebowmania or whatever – they’re relevant. They’re 8-5 atop of the AFC West. If someone had told them before the season that after 13 games into the season they’d be sitting atop the AFC West, they would have gladly accepted that.
"New England has to look at it as needing this win because they are trying to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Their defense hasn’t played very well and that scares them. Though Denver’s defense is very formidable, New England’s offense is going to have some success moving the football. The question is, if New England races out to a big lead can the Broncos offense overcome that? That is what everybody wants to see. Denver has won some very, very close ballgames. Now, if New England races out to a 17-3 or 21-7 lead, will Denver still have enough confidence to continue doing what they’ve done to win the last seven-out-of-eight ballgames. Do they still feel confident that they can do it? People want to see Tim Tebow play against Tom Brady. But I am also anxious to see how Tebow performs against this defense. This is a defense that Dan Orlovsky of the winless Indianapolis Colts went 30-of-37 for over 350 yards. I will not be surprised if this ballgame is a lot closer, or even the Broncos win this game, given the fact that New England’s defense is not very good."