ESPN's Pats-Broncos prediction roundup

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
10:20
AM ET
A roundup of how ESPN's analysts see Saturday’s Patriots-Broncos AFC divisional playoff game playing out. Only one ESPN pundit, Eric Allen, is picking the Broncos to upset the Patriots:

PatriotsBroncos* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss: Patriots 35, Broncos 17. This is asking a lot of the Broncos to turn around after an emotional win and play on the road six days later. I combine that with the feeling that the mentally tough Patriots are ready to make a decisive statement and believe this will be the night that Gillette Stadium rocks and a three-game playoff losing streak is snapped. The Patriots might have a shaky defense at times, but the offense is just too explosive. Sure, Tom Brady's recent playoff performances haven't been up to his usual standard, but I don't see Denver being able to hold him down long enough to hang close in the end.

* ESPNBoston.com Patriots analyst Tedy Bruschi: Patriots 38, Broncos 28. Quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers don't grow on trees. If you've got one of these guys, congratulations. If not, good luck finding one. Having said that, what's so intriguing about the quarterback position is that there is more than one way to play it. And more than one way to win football games. Denver is for real and so is Tim Tebow. Is it possible that they beat the Patriots? Yes. Do I think it will happen? No. The Patriots have been "one and done" the last two years. That trend stops Saturday. The Patriots don't have to look far for a reminder of who they are playing for this season: the patch on their jerseys that honors Myra Kraft, the late wife of Robert Kraft. From here on out they play for MHK.

* ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg: Patriots 16, Broncos 3. After all the hoopla about Tim Tebow's 316 passing yards last week, this 3-16 will get decidedly less ink and Tebow hype goes into winter hibernation. For the well-being of Twitter and the Internet, the Patriots win this game with relative ease (OK, it'll probably be more like 30-16).

* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Rodak: Patriots 42, Broncos 24. Which Patriots team do we get on Saturday? If it's the first quarter version, the Patriots could be in trouble, even on their home turf. But I expect the second half team of late to show up, and if they do, this game could get out of hand quickly for the Broncos.

* ESPNBoston.com’s Steve Krasner: Patriots 31, Broncos 17. Just enough Patriots defense and too much Tom Brady for the Broncos to contain.

* ESPN Boston Radio’s Adam Jones: Patriots 34, Broncos 20. Saturday's game isn't about whether or not the Broncos can score (they can), it's whether or not they can match touchdowns with Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense. I believe the answer to that question is no. However, I think this game remains close until the fourth quarter, when the Patriots eventually ice the game with a long, clock-killing drive for a touchdown.

* ESPN Boston Radio’s Andrew Brooks: Patriots 34, Broncos 17. We've spent all week on the show talking about the Pats' inability to win games in the playoffs against teams that they've beaten in the regular season, but that hasn't scared me from predicting a blowout victory. The Broncos run stops in New England because they simply don't have the offensive firepower to stay with the Patriots. We can pick up the legend of Tebow again next year, but it's time for Brady to get back in the spotlight.

* Grantland's Bill Barnwell: Patriots 34, Broncos 20. A lot of the factors that led us to lean toward a possible upset last week for Denver are gone. This week, they're the team with more injuries. They're the ones on the road in a hostile environment. They're at the special teams disadvantage. Remember last year, when the Seahawks beat the Saints at home and then traveled to Chicago with their chests puffed out and got stomped? The Broncos might very well be about to emulate that. They should be able to score some, but it's going to be very difficult for them to really stop the Patriots.

* NFL Live: Both Herm Edwards and Mark Schlereth pick the Patriots.

* ESPN experts: Seven of the eight experts pick the Patriots. Only Eric Allen picks the Broncos.

* Sunday Countdown: Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka, Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson all pick the Patriots.

* Madden simulation: Patriots 45, Broncos 20. When Willis McGahee runs through the Pats for a seven-yard touchdown to open the game, even the virtual "Madden" fans had to be shaking their heads in disbelief. Could the Broncos really go into New England and upset the Patriots? But all that touchdown did was light a fire under Tom Brady and crew, with the Pats exploding for 45 points, including three through the air, as Brady knifes his way through the Denver secondary for 314 yards in the win.

* AccuScore simulations: Patriots 35, Broncos 18 (average of more than 10,000 simulations). Click HERE to simulate the game yourself.

* Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc. (Insider): Patriots 30, Broncos 10.

* Make your playoff picks with our Pigskin Pick’Em contest.

* What's your prediction for Patriots-Broncos? Leave it in the comments section of this blog post.

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