Patriots - Broncos Draws In The Commish

Tebow-mania is in full swing, which is why the NFL flexed it's veto power to keep the Patriots - Broncos matchup on CBS. It seems everyone else, including the Networks, wanted a prime time matchup of two playoff-bound teams with Tim Tebow vs Tom Brady.

Broncos in good position for playoff push

   No one, not even the most optimistic of Broncos fans could have seen this coming when the schedule was released.

   A December matchup pitting visiting New England at Denver didn't figure to have playoff implications. It did for the Patriots, in all likelihood - but Denver? It was coming off a 4-12 season that was the worst in franchise history.

   But now, not only is Denver-New England a potential teaser of two postseason entrants, it likely will rank among the most highly-anticipated matchups of the 2011 season.

   Other marquee matchups have included: Detroit-Green Bay; New Orleans-Green Bay; Dallas-New York Giants; Pittsburgh-Baltimore; San Francisco-Baltimore; Baltimore-New York Jets; and Detroit-New Orleans.

   But Tim Tebow vs. Tom Brady figures to create quite the buzz, too.

   In fact, it already has - to the extent that it spurred a pseudo-bidding war between networks to show it.

   CBS already had protected the Jets-Philadelphia Eagles matchup in Week 4. NBC had every right to flex Denver-New England due to the playoff backdrop, substituting for San Diego-Baltimore that's scheduled for this Sunday night.

   But reportedly commissioner Roger Goodell got involved so that CBS could keep the Broncos' game on its schedule.

   The NFL had moved the Minnesota-Denver game to FOX on Dec. 4, and coupled with the Broncos' win over Chicago showing on that same network, moving Denver to prime-time would mean CBS - the AFC network -- would be without a Broncos game for three straight weeks.

   With talks to extend the partnerships with the league's network partners, the Broncos-Patriots staying on CBS made the most overall sense.

   Not making much sense is the current streak in which the Broncos currently find themselves.

   "We're 8-5. That's all I'll say to whoever, whatever," defensive end Robert Ayers said. "Our goal now is to be 9-5. That's all that matters at the end of the day -- whether it's luck, whether it's whatever, blowouts, however, I don't care how you get it done, the Denver Broncos are 8-5."

   They've won seven of eight since a 1-4 start to take a stranglehold of the AFC West, as they attempt to become the fifth team since the inception of the 16-game schedule to rally from that five-game start into the postseason.

   Not only are the Broncos one-up on Oakland (7-6) but they hold tiebreaker edges over the Raiders in common opponents and have just a home game vs. the Chiefs remaining within the division. Denver is 3-2 in the West, while the Raiders are 2-2 and still have to host San Diego and visit Kansas City.

   TRENDING: The Broncos have won six of Tim Tebow's first 11 NFL starts either in regulation or overtime after entering the fourth quarter while trailing. No other quarterback has ever accomplished that feat.

   BY THE NUMBERS: Strong-side linebacker Von Miller has 11.5 sacks and he has at least a half-sack in five straight games in which he's played (he missed the Minnesota game after thumb surgery). Miller's sack vs. Chicago put him in a tie with Rulon Jones for the franchise rookie record, set in 1980. Miller enters the final three games needing 3.5 sacks to break the NFL rookie mark set by Jevon Kearse in 1999.

 NOTES
   --LB D.J. Williams posted his second career multiple sack game with two vs. Chicago. Denver's defense now has at least two sacks in 12 straight games, extending the NFL's longest active streak.
   --PK Matt Prater kicked the game-winning field goal against the Bears, marking the third straight week his kick has decided a game on the final play. Only Mike Vanderjagt in 2002 has tied a game in regulation and won it in overtime, as Prater did Sunday, with two field goals of 50-plus yards.
   --WR Demaryius Thomas, one week after his career-best game with 144 yards and two TDs, was targeted 13 times Sunday. Six of his seven catches came in the fourth quarter and overtime and earned five first downs, helping erase three early drops.
   --SLB Von Miller ranks third in NFL history with his 11.5 sacks in his first 12 games. Only Leslie O'Neal (San Diego, 1986) and Julius Peppers (Carolina, 2002) had more, with 12.5 and 12.0, respectively.
   --WR Matt Willis set career bests with four receptions and 75 yards vs. Chicago. Willis played the third-receiver role vacated by Eddie Royal, who missed the game with a concussion.

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