Keys to the Game – Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots 1/14/12

Last Updated: January 10th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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The first day of the second round of the NFL playoffs schedule finishes up on Saturday night in the great state of Massachusetts, where the New England Patriots will try to beat the NFL odds for the second time this year against the Denver Broncos. Check out our NFL playoffs keys to the game for the Broncos and Pats!

NFL Playoffs Matchup: Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots
Broncos vs. Patriots Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Broncos vs. Patriots Date/Time: Saturday, January 14th, 8:00 p.m.
Broncos vs. Patriots Television Coverage: CBS

Click Here For The Rest Of The 2012 NFL Playoff Bracket And Other NFL Playoff Previews

Key #1: Tom Brady has to get over his playoff blues
Something happened to the Patriots in the playoffs in 2008. They were coming off of a 16-0 regular season of perfection in which they were really just not challenged at all. They struggled for a long time with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs, and the San Diego Chargers nearly picked them off in the AFC Championship Game. The New York Giants finished the deal and ended the “perfect” season at a not-so-perfect 18-1 and without a championship. Since the AFC title game that year though, there has been something majorly wrong with this offense. The team has scored at least 30 points in just a slew of games, especially at home since the start of that perfect 16-0 regular season, but in the playoffs, none of New England’s last four games have resulted in more than 21 points going on the board. Brady, who finished with over 5,200 passing yards this year, has only averaged 232.0 yards per game in his last four postseason games, and he has the same number of TD passes as INTs. We don’t know whether it is the playoff pressure or the tremendous opponents that the Patriots have run up against, but they have to figure this out quickly, or they will have a very short run here in the playoffs in 2012 as well.

Broncos @ Patriots Odds at Wager Web Sportsbook
Denver Broncos +13.5
New England Patriots -13.5
Over/Under 50.5
Click Here to Bet Your NFL playoffs Picks!

Key #2: Denver has to bring pressure, force turnovers, and take advantage of them
That’s a heck of a lot to ask one team to do, especially against a team that had four receivers account for over 700 receiving yards this year, two of which had over 1,300 yards. That being said, the common bond in the games that Brady has struggled in during the past postseasons was the pressure that he faced. Three offensive linemen are nicked up for the Patriots, and this was already a unit that struggled at times to keep its quarterback off of his backside. The Broncos brought all sorts of pressure last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, sacking QB Ben Roethlisberger five times and forcing him into tons of other bad decisions. There were two golden opportunities in the first half to score TDs instead of kick field goals, and in both trips into the red zone, the Broncos had to settle for K Matt Prater field goals. That just can’t be the case against New England. LB Von Miller, DE Robert Ayers, and DE Elvis Dumervil have to make some plays and they have to force turnovers, and when those turnovers are forced, the end result has to be touchdown, not field goals.


Key #3: The Patriots have to kick the Broncos to the curb early
Starting strong has been a real problem for the Pats in recent weeks. They were losing in the first half in each of their final four games of the season, including dropping behind 21-0 to the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. That being said, New England did come back to win all of those games, two of which were in resounding fashion. These Broncos aren’t the Bills from two weeks ago though, and if you look back over the course of the winning streak that QB Tim Tebow was able to amass, most of those came in games in which they were able to hang around until the end, when Tebow was able to make a play. Last week, Pittsburgh was up 6-0 at the end of the first quarter in spite of the fact that the Broncos only had eight total yards of offense. Two TDs there, and Tebow probably panics, has to throw the ball more, makes some mistakes, and the Steelers could have won by 40. New England has to get off to a better start in this game, take advantage of any mistakes that Tebow makes, and force him to become a passer. That’s when the game really got out of hand when these two met in Mile High a month ago, and that’s what has to be the case as early as possible this week for New England to feel safe, especially when playing against a set of NFL playoff odds like these.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 @ 2:34 pm (EST)
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