Will Tebow-mania begin to simmer on Sunday, or explore into a full-blown fury, a world where Skip Bayless is right and the rest of us are to play humble to his prophecies?
Can't. Won't. Happen.
This week's picks:
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Patriots 27, Broncos 24. This one will be close, and it will come down to a field goal, we think. But as great as Tebow's been, Tom Brady is the QB on the other sideline this week, not Caleb Hanie or Mark Sanchez or Christian Ponder. That should make just enough of a difference to help New England pull out a victory in the end. But it will not be easy. The Patriots are 8-18 all time in Denver, and 2-15 since winning three of the first nine meetings in Denver from 1960 to 1968.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 27, Broncos 16. Poof. There it goes. Teblowed up. The way I see this game is that New England's going to get a good lead early, and Tim Tebow is going to have to play well early to keep the Broncos in it. And that is not Tebow's game. Maybe it will be Sunday, magically. But in a battle of four-quarter quarterbacks, give me Brady -- even against a tough D like Denver's.
ESPN.com staff: Six out of eight pick the Patriots.
CBS Sports staff: Four out of five pick the Patriots.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 27, Broncos 17. The last time the Broncos played an offense close to being as good as New England's, Detroit blew them out. But the Denver defense is much improved since then. Even so, I look for Tom Brady to come in and put up big numbers. The Broncos have kept games close in their six-game winning streak, but this time Tim Tebow will be asked to do too much. Brady and the Patriots take it, despite the Patriots being 2-12 in Denver.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Broncos 31, Patriots 30. As exceptional as Brady has been throughout his long career in the fourth quarter, it's hard to jump off the Tebow train in a home game that isn't scary for him. He proved he could pass against a similarly porous secondary in the Minnesota Vikings, and he should get good support from his running backs here as well. The Patriots' escape from a Mike Shanahan-coached team last week sets them up to get nipped by the Broncos in a key game.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Broncos 24, Patriots 23. The list of 'thou shalt nots' now includes a line regarding picking against Tim Tebow. New England's defense stinks, and Denver's defense is good enough to keep it close. If the Broncos keep it close, the guy who says God has spoken to him will overcome the once little-known sixth-round pick who possibly struck a deal with the devil.
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 31, Broncos 27. The Patriots defense can barely slow down Grossmania, so Tim Tebow should have a big day. Tom Brady should be even better. There are weak spots in this Broncos' secondary that Brady can exploit, especially at safety. This result will test Florio's Tebow man-crush.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 24, Broncos 20. Yeah, yeah, I know. A couple of 10-3 teams are playing on Monday night. That's OK. Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow lights this one up, with metastasizing mania surrounding the latter turning every game he's in into a Tebowl. This also happens to be a battle of division leaders who have combined for 11 wins in a row, oh by the way. Pats clinch AFC East title with a win or a Jets loss, while the Tebows nurse a one-game division lead out West. Denver is only the third team ever to win six in a row after starting 2-5 or worse, following the 1970 Bengals and 2005 Vikings, but the streak stops here. It won't stop because of the SI Jinx (Tebow adorns this week's cover, not Tebowing on bent knee, but upright). It will stop because the 'other' QB in this game - I forget his name, but he's infinitely better than Tebow - will torch an injury-wracked Denver secondary. Wait. Can Tebow play cornerback!?
Peter Schrager, Foxsports.com: Broncos 24, Patriots 23. How about Frank Bruni opting to write about Tebow in the New York Times last Sunday? The man best known for causing celebrity chef Jeffrey Chodorow to purchase a full-page ad questioning a restaurant review of his weighed in on the best storyline the NFL has to offer, writing, 'He reminds us that strength comes in many forms and some people have what can be described only as a gift for winning, which isn't synonymous with any spreadsheet inventory of what it supposedly takes to win.' Bruni's right (as he was with his review of Chodorow's Kobe Club; the place was overpriced and the food was nothing special). Don't overthink Tebow vs. Brady this week. I'm not going to try to attempt to explain or predict how it will happen, but the Broncos are winning this one. They just are.
Yahoo! Sports: Three out of four pick the Patriots.
Globe staff: Two out of four pick the Patriots (Line: New England by 6 1/2)
It says here: Patriots 27, Broncos 17. Even Houdini had his off days, kid. He just did.