Happy Tim Tebow Week. New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, Sunday at 4:15 p.m. on CBS.
Providence is on the schedule this week for the Patriots against Tebow and the Broncos. But this time it's in Colorado, not Rhode Island. The Legend of Tebow and the Legend of Gronk are going to collide in apocalyptic fashion on Sunday. Gronkos vs. Broncos. Something has got to give. Better still, will Belichick recoil like Dracula looking into the light if he shakes hands with Tebow before the game. Finally, there's always The Only Virgin In the NFL vs. America's Favorite Baby Daddy. (Also known as the quarterback matchup.) Patriots-Broncos has been on our radar for several weeks. If you're just joining us, check out what you missed here and here.
(Update on "Gronkos vs. Broncos" - Gronkowski appeared on Dennis and Callahan Tuesday and spoke about facing the Denver Broncos and, of course, Tim Tebow, on Sunday in the Mile High City. "I'm fascinated," he told WEEI's audience. He said he gets to watch tape of the opposing offense for a few minutes each week. Sure he'll get a chance Sunday in Denver.)
While not everyone is in Tebow's corner, or God's corner for that matter, there's no doubt that Tebow has taken two of America's great religions - Christianity and the NFL - and brought them together whether we like it or not.
Tebow. Gronk. Brady. Bobby Valentine. I'm still not sure who to put at the center of the Nativity scene in my front yard this year. Actually, judging by some of the coverage, comments and Kool-Aid consumption in Red Sox Nation, any criticism of Valentine is considered much more blasphemous than using the Lord's name in vain after Brady's first interception in a month. (Thanks for that jinx, CBS).
The kids won't miss any of this game with its 4:15 p.m. kickoff. Robert Kraft had to toughen up a hesitant Roger Goodell to make sure the game wasn't taken by NBC and aired at night. It should be the most-viewed regular-season game for the Pats since they went 16-0 in the old Meadowlands on about 15 different networks. Tebow's so big, he was even the lead story on Drudge Sunday night. Not since Tiger Woods has any athlete so polarized the sporting public.
The Patriots and Tebow provide the perfect complement. The Pats usually play good football for about 50 minutes and Tebow needs about 10 minutes to handle his business before each come-from-behind victory. During Tebow's run, Broncos have won four games by four or fewer points and three in overtime. Just when, baby? About the time you think they don't have a chance. Amen.
The Tebow haters, doubters and skeptics will point to Matt Prater, John Fox, Willis McGahee, Demaryius Thomas, "Dancing With the Stars," bad weather, the Bush tax cuts, gas prices, fracking, Obamacare or gravity for reasons to explain the fact the once-going-nowhere Broncos are 7-1 since the home-schooled pride of Nease High took over John Elway's alma mater. The doubters will stretch, contort and pontificate about his mechanical faults. "His motion is too slow." "He's awkward." "He can't hit receivers." "He's just a running QB." Blah. Blah. Blah. Tebow had led his team to six straight victories. The only QB with a better winning percentage over eight games this season in the NFL is Aaron Rodgers. Next Sunday at Sports Authority Field we just can't wait to see what Tebow might do against a defense that has given up - hold on to your seats - exactly 900 yards in total offense and 51 points to the Colts and Redskins combined in the past two weeks. By the way, the Broncos are the top rushing team in the NFL.
Heaven help us.
If God isn't helping Tebow, He certainly isn't doing much for his opponents. Just ask Chicago's Marion Barber. Why did he run out of bounds in the last two minutes to stop the clock? What about that fumble on the 34 in overtime? Did the Devil make you do it? This week, Tebow won't need God on his side as long as he has the Patriots' secondary on the other side.
"I might have thanked the Lord when he did that," Tebow said of Barber's inexplicable fumble that opened the door for Prater's 51-yard field goal in OT during Sunday's 13-10 deliverance from the Bears. The Broncos didn't put up a point during their first 11 drives and were shut out for 57:52 before a getting touchdown and two field goals on their final three possessions. Salvation.
Let us pray. Really hard.
The Patriots' defense isn't entirely without its friends in the high places, however. Andre Carter is the Pats' not-so-secret weapon against Tebow next week. He is easily the MVP of the defense this season. Carter is immense - he's 6-feet-4-inches, 255 pounds of rock-solid hellacious defensive lineman, with 52 tackles, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles this season. He's one of the Hoodie's best reclamation projects. The Anti-Haynesworth. Fast and furious. Carter must have a thing for ex-Florida QBs, after not only nailing Rex Grossman for a sack and forced fumble in the end zone (recovered by Vince Wilfork) but also getting flagged for a questionable roughing penalty after taking down Grossman at the knees. "There was no intentions of going low," Carter said after the game."I thought it was a good hit, but the league has definitely involved so much as far as protecting quarterbacks ... So that was my fault, and I'll try and do better and not put our defense in that position.?
But in the words of Tebow: "If you believe, unbelievable things can be possible." So have faith, Patriots fans, because the biggest thing the Patriots may have going against Tebow could be Carter's faith. Prior to Sunday's nail-biter over Washington, his old team, Carter told the press: "You know what, I'm a man of faith. God works in mysterious ways. In all, I was just blessed to have the opportunity to play another season and play a few more downs and, in general, just play for a great organization." Following his Patriots single-game record 4.5 sack performance against the Jets - where he put the fear of God into Mark Sanchez - Carter said: "I tell everyone, God is great. This is a game I will always remember, and I'm still shocked."
It was no different Sunday. After the Pats won 34-27, @mr_carter93 (God's purpose) Tweeted simply: "I thank God for everything he has blessed me with. On and off the field I am grateful." Hardly a unique sentiment. Carter's Twitter stream is full of such outrageous statements - at least according to some when they're uttered by Tebow - like "God bless u too," "I'm blessed by God" and "Morning. It's another blessed day being alive."
Perhaps Carter's faith and his open affection and unabashed praise for Him has been the unknown ingredient in the "bend-but-don't-break-and-save-the-game-in-the-last-minute-with-a-tipped-interception" defense. It seems Carter has given the Patriots just enough assistance from above to get this team to 10-3. Nothing else this side of Brady and Gronk can explain how New England keeps playing so poorly on defense but remains in such great playoff position. One more win or one more loss by The Great Satan will make the Patriots AFC East champs. If New England, Baltimore and Houston all win out, the Pats will be the No. 2 seed, have a first-round bye and home playoff game.
About just in time for the Steelers, or possibly Tebow and the AFC West champion Broncos to come to town.
Don't forget to join our weekly Patriots in-game fan chat Sunday against the Broncos. We'll get it started at 4. This one should be wicked pissah. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at email@example.com. And don't forget to follow us on twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
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