Denver Broncos: Recipe for a Divisional Playoff Victory
The Denver Broncos’ season continues this weekend when they travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional Playoff game. After a thrilling overtime defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round, Denver looks to once again overcome the odds and win as a big underdog.
This will be Denver’s 3rd all-time playoff matchup against the Patriots. The Broncos are 2-0 in the previous games, although both of those were played in Denver. These teams met after the 1986 and 2005 seasons with the Broncos winning 22-17 and 27-13, respectively. The 1986 matchup was John Elway’s first playoff victory as a player and it led to the 2nd Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. The win during the ’05 season was the first playoff victory during the post-Elway era, and up until last weekend it was the only playoff victory since Denver won their 2nd of back-to-back Super Bowl Championships after the 1998 season.
Although New England is favored by about 2 touchdowns, there is something special about this Denver team. I fully expect them to compete and play much better than they did during the regular season matchup a month ago. I would not be surprised at all if the Broncos keep this wild ride going for at least another week.
Here is the recipe for a Divisional Playoff win over the New England Patriots:
- The Broncos need to win the turnover battle. If I were to write 100 articles like this before playoff games, all 100 of them would start this same way. Turnovers are the key to every playoff game but it’s even more so for a team that is a big underdog. During the regular season loss to the Patriots, Denver dominated the game until a string of 3 turnovers spun it into a blowout the other way. If Denver wins the turnover battle this time around they will absolutely have a shot to win it at the end.
- Denver’s offense needs to pound the rock. The best defense against Tom Brady is to keep him on the sidelines looking pretty for the cameras, and the best way to do that is to own the time of possession. The Broncos need to run the ball and eat some clock during their scoring drives. They rushed for 252 yards in the first meeting which is a ridiculously big number. If they can approach that production again it will result in good things on Saturday night.
- The defense has to slow down the big New England tight ends and put Tom Brady on the turf. The defense, led by Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil, came up with 5 sacks on Ben Roethlisberger that killed several Pittsburgh drives last weekend, and they obviously need to bring that same effort against the Patriots. Dennis Allen is also going to have to come up with a scheme to slow down Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, both of whom had monster seasons for the Patriots. Those 2 combined for 198 total yards in the first meeting, and Denver cannot let that happen again if they have any hope of slowing down the prolific New England offense.
- Tim Tebow needs to keep it going. He played probably the best game of his pro career against the Steelers and the Broncos need him to keep it up. In the playoffs, a team usually goes as its quarterback goes, so Tebow needs to produce both on the ground and through the air like he did last Sunday. John Fox and Mike McCoy did a great job opening up the offense and allowing him to make big plays, and that needs to continue as well.
- The Broncos need more big play magic. Tim Tebow completed several long passes on his way to a 316-yard performance in the Wild Card round, and his 80-yard overtime touchdown to Demaryius Thomas is a highlight that is going to be replayed for eternity in Broncos Country. Quinton Carter had a big interception and the rest of the defense was a hair away from forcing several other big turnovers. If Denver is going to advance in the playoffs they are going to need several more highlight reel type plays just like the ones we saw against Pittsburgh.
- Denver needs to feed off the “us against the world” attitude. It is no secret that the Broncos have absorbed more criticism and doubt that probably all the other playoff teams combined, and I love it. Keep it coming! This team plays its best when the experts think they have no chance in the world. As long as the organization and the fans believe they can win, that is all that matters.
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