Staffordshire Surge Season Preview

12 04 2012

The Staffordshire Surge have created an unwanted image of being a ‘pub team’ in recent years, but all that is about to change as an influx of coaches and fresh ideas aim to rejuvenate this stuttering programme.

The Surge will compete in the BAFANL Central Division Two in 2012 and expectation is high, something which has been absent in recent times. The season opener against the newly reformed Crewe Railroaders will be a test to see how far the team has come in the offseason in what is anticipated to be a highly charged local derby.

Stuart Beech, 41, is the defensive co-ordinator for the Surge and in his own words; “I’m the DC and only a back-up because I’m too old and decrepit to play nowadays”.

DC Stuart Beech courtesy of Sophie Robinson Sports Photography.

His playing days may now be behind him but he is still hopeful of a successful campaign for the Surge.

“This year our aim to create a solid foundation to build on for the coming years. Too many years now the Surge has been thought of as a ‘pub team’ and behind the times of how a club should be run. We have now sorted out a stable home ground, a functioning committee, proper kit and installed a whole new offence and defence. If we can show an improvement on last season, (on and off the pitch), we will be very happy”.

The Surge have added offensive co-ordinator Gideon Beddows, quarterback/receiver coach Warren Thomas, running back/ special teams co-ordinator Stephen Hindmarsh and linebacker coach Pete Machin to the set-up in the hope this will improve results on the field but also have an impact off the field.

OC Gideon Beddows - courtesy of Sophie Robinson Sports Photography

“Coach Beddows and Thomas have brought with them a more professional approach to the running of the team and the way we are viewed by others and have installed a new offence. Coach Hindmarsh has been with the Surge for many years but now has increased responsibility while coach Machin is a motivational and technically gifted ex-player who we are glad to have back”.

Vital to any team’s chances of success is competition for places as sometimes a small squad of settled players can result in an unhealthy, stale environment but luckily for the Surge that won’t be the case this season.

“Player recruitment has gone well over the past couple of years, half the team has only been playing for three seasons or less and we’ve managed to pick up some really good players along the way. This year we have got four rookies who have shown some great promise and will have a good chance of starting in the first game against Crewe Railroaders.

We have lost players from last season, but I think most teams will have to cope with this problem. The upturn this year is that we have had only one player leave us this year to join another club and we also expect a number of players from the Staffordshire Stallions to come down and do a job for us this year”.

Courtesy Sophie Robinson Sports Photography

Last season did not go to plan for Staffordshire as they only managed to secure two wins in a season they would probably rather forget.

“Last year started out quite well despite some close losses to the Chester Romans and Lancashire Wolverines before dropping off after the visit of the Sheffield Predators. That game, coupled with the losses tot Chester and Shropshire Revolution were our real low points of the season as we didn’t play well nor show any real fight. Thankfully we did show some spirit in the away game at the Revolution and at home to the Lincolnshire Bombers”.

Returning to the current season’s fortunes, coach Beech has highlighted the Surge’s main players ahead of the new campaign with receiver Lewis Bayley, defensive end Phil Wright and linebacker Mike Cooke receiving plenty of praise.

“Stallions go-to-man Lewis Bayley has good size, speed and hands. He was the offensive player of the year last season and I don’t see no reason why that would change with the new offence we are running this season. Wright is raw talent that ran riot last year in his rookie season and he is showing even more promise this season. Cooke had to miss half the last season but still impressed in the games he did play in, he is a tackling machine and has a cracking technique”.

When asked who he was least looking forward to playing this season, coach Beech held nothing back; “Sheffield because I despise the ‘double-wing’, it’s a horrible offence to play against and watch”.

Staffordshire Surge VS Crewe Railroaders – 22/4/2012

Longton Rugby Club, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 8GR

Kick Off 14:30PM





BUAFL Playoffs: Quarter Finals

17 03 2012

Week two of the playoffs is upon us and as always, it has thrown up some mouthwatering clashes.

In the Northern Section of the Championship Playoffs, the Loughborough Aces, are once again on the road, this time travelling north to the #1 ranked Newcastle Raiders. The Sheffield Hallam Warriors face a mammoth task as they travel to the home of the Birmingham Lions for a place in the semi-finals.

 

#5 Loughborough Aces @ Newcastle Raiders #1

#3 Hallam Warriors @ Birmingham Lions #2

 

In the Southern Section of the Championship Playoffs, the Cardiff Cobras will be hoping luck is on their side as they travel to the number one ranked Hertfordshire Hurricanes. The final quarter final sees the Southampton Stags hosting the UWE Bullets.

 

#5 Cardiff Cobras @ Hertfordshire Hurricanes #1

#3 UWE Bullets @ Southampton Stags #2

 

In the Northern Section of the Plate Competition, the Edinburgh Predators travel south to play the Sheffield Sabres. The number one ranked team in the north, Northumbria Mustangs, welcome the NTU Renegades.

 

#5 Edinburgh Predators @ Sheffield Sabres #2

#6 NTU Renegades @ Northumbria Mustangs #1

 

In the Southern Section of the Plate Competition, the Bath Killer Bees, fresh from their victory over the Portsmouth Destroyers, travel south to the #1 ranked Plymouth Bitz. In the other game, UEA Pirates will take on the Solent Redhawks.

 

#5 Bath Killer Bees @ Plymouth Blitz #1

#3 UEA Pirates @ Solent Redhawks #2





BUAFL Playoffs

9 03 2012

The Championship and Plate fixtures have finally been confirmed and all involved are eagerly awaiting the big kick-off this weekend.

In the Northern Section the Newcastle Raiders (8-0) ranked #1 and Birmingham Lions (8-0) ranked #2 receive a bye week and await the outcome of this weekends results.

In the Southern Section the Hertfordshire Hurricanes (8-0) ranked #1 and Southampton Stags (8-0) ranked #2, also get time to recover from a tough schedule while the rest fight it out to meet them later in the playoffs.

 

This weekends Championship fixtures are as follows:

 

#6 UH Sharks (6-2) @ Sheffield Hallam Warriors (8-0) #3

#5 Loughborough Aces (7-1) @ Stirling Clansmen (7-1) #4

#6 Essex Blades (6-2) @ UWE Bullets (7-1) #3

#5 Cardiff Cobras (6-2) @ OBU Panthers (6-1-1) #4

 

In the Northern Section it’s the Northumbria Mustangs (6-2) ranked #1 and Sheffield Sabres (6-2) ranked #2 who receive a bye week in the Plate competition.

In the Southern Section the Plymouth Blitz (5-3) ranked #1 and Solent Redhawks (5-3) ranked #2 can rest their weary bodies and watch the action unfold for at least another week, while the rest squabble over who will face them.

 

This weeks Plate fixtures are as follows:

 

#6 NTU Renegades (5-3) @ Northampton Nemesis (5-2-1) #3

#5 Edinburgh Predators (5-3) @ Leeds Celtics (6-2) #4

#6 Kent Falcons (4-3-1) @ UEA Pirates (5-3) #3

#5 Bath Killer Bees (5-3) @ Portsmouth Destroyers (5-3) #4

Good luck to all teams involved. FightForTheYard.





Sope Dirisu Interview

18 02 2012

FightForTheYard has secured the thoughts of Birmingham Lions star quarterback Sope Dirisu on the eve of the first Football America UK Bowl.

The clash between the Birmingham Lions and Loughborough Aces is itself worthy of a Championship game but on Saturday 19th February, the winner of this conference brawl will be in pole position and favourites for an assault at national glory.

Birmingham Lions Quarterback Sope Dirisu

One of the men hoping to be on the winning team is veteran quarterback and team president Sope Dirisu.

Dirisu has been left frustrated by the postponement of recent games but is excited to finally be playing again, “I’m really psyched and looking forward to the Loughborough game. Having had two of our games in the run up to this one called off, the whole team is just raring to go, eager for a game and wanting to properly get back to football”.

Playing at the quarterback position, the spotlight is always going to be on you and some players either rise or crumble under the pressure, Dirisu thankfully has another quarterback who can carry some of that burden and expectation, Jonny Glover.

Glover sounds like he should be in an American television show like ‘Friday Night Lights’ but Dirisu is adamant that he has no qualms about the rotation system currently in use in Birmingham.

“We have a motto at the Lions which is ‘Always Compete’ and I guess we’ve been competing with each other since preseason. It provides great competition between the two of us and I think we play better when we know the other is nipping at our heels and if it makes us better, it makes the team better”.

Dirisu focused during practise

“The competition doesn’t hinder our friendship at all, Jonny’s a great guy. With this being my last year with the Lions, I know the team is in great hands with Jonny and our new Rookie Alex ‘Flacco’ Wake-Warlow under centre”.

Without beating around the bush, the two teams on show today are the ‘crème de la crème’ of the Midland Athletic Conference and it promises to be a tight, physical encounter.

“Loughborough are clearly one of our greater rivals in the BUAFL and I’ve never played a mediocre or lacklustre game against them and I’m sure that this will be no different. They’re a great side with some talented ‘ballers’ and always provide a stiff competition”.

Dirisu is respectful of the competition but ultimately expects his troops to get the job done, “Without being biased and having looked at the way my guys have trained I see plenty of desire and their attitude towards preparing for the game has been great. I know we’ll be more than a match for the Aces”.

Whatever the outcome, it is set up to be one hell of a game.

FightForTheYard will be delivering a full match report in due course.





Football America UK Bowl

16 02 2012
Federer vs Nadal, Ali vs Frazier, Woods vs Mickleson, Senna vs Prost

While rarely mentioned in the same breath, Birmingham Lions vs Loughborough Aces holds similar significance in the world of the British University American Football League.

Two of the country’s powerhouse programs clash on Saturday 18th February, Birmingham,  in what – not could, but will decide the eventual winner of the Midland Athletic Conference in the inaugural Football America UK Bowl.

Last year’s runners-up Birmingham Lions have strolled through the first half of the campaign going 5-0 and picking off the likes of NTU Renegades, Coventry Jets, Nottingham Outlaws and the Staffordshire Stallions while games against Lincoln Colonials and Derby Braves have fallen foul to the adverse weather.

Scoring a total of 208 points, offense has obviously been a breeze for the Lions even with the slightly odd situation they have at quarterback.

Lions QB Jonny Glover against Staffordshire Stallions

Since star quarterback Tristan Varney’s serious injury in the corresponding fixture last season, Birmingham has been rotating pocket passer Jonny Glover and the big arm scrambler Sope Dirisu. It may be normal policy for lesser teams to rotate quarterbacks as they try to find a winning combination but it is widely acknowledged that a stable team breeds confidence and positive results but Birmingham seem to have bucked the trend and credit to Head Coach Wayne Hill for recognising that.

While the offense has been racking up huge numbers, the defence has been labelled as one of the stingiest in the league conceding mere 14 points, coincidently coming against both Nottingham teams.

Running a 3-4 defensive scheme the Lions are geared up to stop the run but that will not stop the inevitable pass rush from their GB calibre linemen and linebackers.

Aces RB Adam Hope against Nottingham Outlaws

The inevitable run that I speak of is one of the strongest in the entire league and with the ball under the arm of 2011 League MVP Adam Hope, Birmingham will have to dig deep in the trenches and be capable of keeping the outside contain as that is where Hope and co like to run.

Birmingham themselves have a GB running back and if they are to be successful on Saturday they cannot solely rely on the impressive passing game that has so far served them well because if they do, their defence will have a hell of a job keeping them in the game.

Trying to halt the Lions express is an equally dominant Loughborough defence who have conceded only six points more than their opposition. Loughborough have recorded emphatic wins over Nottingham Outlaws, Warwick Wolves, Staffordshire Stallions, Coventry Jets and the Derby Braves scoring 224 points in the process, more than Birmingham.

Blessed with two Tamworth Phoenix linebackers in Varney and Saari, the Aces have one of the hardest hitting defences in the country and with both sent on blitzes regularly, they have a history of creating turnovers, something that could be a game changer at the weekend.

Aces QB Nick Jacquet waiting for the snap

On the other side of the ball Loughborough use a triple option offence which enables them to keep the defence occupied while quarterback Nick Jacquet who lines up in a pistol offence has the time to pick his pass and make the completion.

Having sacked him twice myself this season, I am looking forward to seeing how Jacquet copes with the pass rush that Birmingham will throw at him but if things do become a bit hectic he can always hand off to four year veteran Hope.

With this year’s game being sponsored and subsequently called the Football America UK Bowl it is ironic that we could have been talking about another bowl game, yes, the Varney Bowl.

With Tristan injured we have been robbed of a game that would have pitted a special quarterback versus his younger brother Jon Varney, a rising star on the Great Britain scene.

The match is scheduled to take place on a 3G pitch which Birmingham will be used to playing on but Loughborough I believe are yet to take to the surface this season. In a game as tight as this is anticipated to be , any advantage could be magnified and prove crucial come the final whistle.

Loughborough Head Coach Paul Sherratt has been kind enough to speak with FightForTheYard ahead of the big game.

Loughborough Aces HC Paul Sherratt

With the weather being so bad, Loughborough were forced to postpone there varsity game with Leicester Longhorns further disrupting there preparation.

“Weather has certainly been a factor as it has for everyone, we lost a week of practice time plus a game. We always have some challenges after Christmas due to the University’s extended exam period. It has been a long time since our last game in December but our players have responded well. We’ve been focussed on getting ourselves ready to play rather than focussing too much on our opponent. Hopefully it won’t take us too long to get back into game mode”.

For Paul there is no better feeling than the build up to a big conference game, ” I talk to Wayne Hill (Birmingham Lions Head Coach), a lot about the pros and cons of a two-tier system but one of the consequences of the MAC in its current form is that you really can’t judge how good you are based on results against some of the teams in the lower half of the conference”.

“I think if you talked to anyone in the Lions or Aces programmes we would want to play games of this magnitude every week. There is a real buzz about the game and it makes it more exciting for everyone involved. I believe it will be a great game and hopefully both teams can go on to represent the MAC in the playoffs”.

When asked how he expected the game to pan out, Sherratt said; “I honestly don’t know. There are some great players on both sides and whoever makes the most big plays will win the game”.

He continued; “There are a lot of key match-ups all over the field so it should be a great one to watch. Recent encounters have been close, usually decided by a score or two with both sides trading touchdowns. I would expect it to be quite conservative to begin with and then gradually open up, special teams will be a factor for sure as it has been in previous games”.

Paul would also like to extend his gratitude to Football America, “I would like to thank Football America UK for sponsoring the game. Wayne, Dave Hagger and I have spoken about it at the AFCA convention on Texas over a beer; it’s great that it is now a reality. Football America has been really good to our programme and they help us out a lot”.

Prediction:

I am anticipating a very close yet high scoring encounter on Saturday with both sides impressing. Looking through the stats and history of this game their isn’t a great deal to choose from so I am going to go on my gut feeling.

Having played both these teams this season, I was slightly more impressed with the Lions and with the home advantage they just edge it for me.

Loughborough Aces 2130 Birmingham Lions

FightForTheYard will be in attendance and have a full match report soon after. Follow for regular updates on the Official FightForTheYard Twitter page.





Superbowl XLVI Preview

5 02 2012

The Patriots coming off the perfect season were expected to brush aside baby Manning and his New York cronies in Miami four years ago but a miracle scramble from Eli and then a catch from the gods themselves helped set up the game winning drive with only 00:00:35 left on the clock.

Fast forward to the present day and once again we have the New England Patriots hosting the New York Giants in Superbowl XLVI in Indianapolis. This time, nobody really knows who will win so Fight For The Yard will try to dissect the facts and stats giving you a better idea of who will be victorious.


Tom Brady, New England Patriots Quarterback

Patriots Offence

If you was to sum up the Pats offence in one word it would be Brady. The future Hall of Fame quarterback has had a special season even for his standards. Surpassing Dan Marino’s regular season passing record (albeit not the only one this year) would have been a boyhood dream but under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick, it seems all of Tom’s fantasies have become reality.

Career high totals of 611 passing attempts and 401 completions are impressive but could he have done so well without the man of the moment Rob Gronkowski?

Gronkowski along with his position partner Aaron Hernandez, have revitalised the Tight End position and become one of the most feared double acts in professional football. The tight end has previously been used as an extra blocker for the run game and occasionally thrown to for short gains but in more recent times and with athletes such as these two beasts, they have become the primary attacking option for New England and have caused defensive coordinators massive headaches.

Gronkowski finished the regular season with an NFL record 17 touchdowns for a tight end with Hernandez adding another seven. Unfortunately for Patriot fans, reaching the showpiece event has not come without a heavy price to their main man. Big Rob suffered a nasty looking ankle injury in the win over the Ravens and is officially listed as questionable. Should New England come out on top, you would think that Gronkowski would need to play a key role.

Quietly going about his business and having a very good season is wide receiver Wes Welker. He is another player who has had a career season, leading the NFL with 1,569 yards and 9 touchdowns although his production slowed down towards the back end of the campaign.

Giants Defence

New York Giants

Jason Pierre-Paul has become one of the most feared pass rushers in the National Football League in only his second season. His production has been remarkable with 16.5 sacks and 86 tackles in a ferocious New York defence.

Fellow lineman Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck have contributed with nine and five sacks respectively. If the Giants are to disrupt the Brady passing machine then these three will play a crucial role.

One of the more touching stories to grace this year’s finale is the life so far of linebacker Mark Herzlich. Diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2009, he was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent last summer. Now fully recovered and a fully fledged NFL professional, he enters his first Superbowl having played eleven games, making 12 tackles.

Eli Manning, New York Giants Quarterback

Giants Offence

For years New York head coach Tom Coughlin has been a run first man but for one reason or another, the passing game has become his new bread and butter. One reason for this could be the emergence of wide receiver Victor Cruz who before the season began was used sparingly but has since become the surprise star man.

Posting figures of nine touchdowns and 1,536 receiving yards Cruz has become the go to man for Manning. Hakeem Nicks has been the only other noticeable contribution in the receiving ranks with seven touchdowns and 1,192 yards.

Eli Manning has a Superbowl to his name yet people are still hesitant to categorise him as an elite quarterback. Constantly in the shadow of elder brother Peyton of the Indianapolis Colts, he has had an uphill battle to prove himself and add to that the media spotlight of playing in New York, you start to feel sorry for the guy but this season has been a turning point.

Throwing for 4,933 and 29 touchdowns, Eli propelled the G-men into pole position in the NFC East but a min crisis when they allowed the Dallas Cowboys to have a say in the title race but consecutive wins orchestrated by Eli over the Cowboys saw them dominate the end of the regular season and power through the post season.

The running game suffered early on but in recent weeks it has become more prevalent with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs scoring 16 touchdowns between them in a hard hitting running game.

New England Patriots

Patriots Defence

With the 31st ranked defence in the NFL, it is miraculous that the Pats were in the playoffs never mind the Superbowl … well that’s what you would have said a year ago but with the 15-1 Packers being ranked 32 and dead last it, appears to be a recipe for success and the old saying that ‘Offence wins games and Defence wins Championships’ seems to be, well, old.

Giving up 21.4 points per game may have been semi acceptable in the regular season but if they do the same in the big game, they’ll be no victory parade in Foxborough come Monday afternoon.

Vince Wilfork has been the stand-out performer on the line this year weighing in with a career high 3.5 sacks and a modest 29 tackles. A pass rush will be crucial to disrupting the flow of Manning and Wilfork will be the one the Patriots will be looking to to supply that pressure.

Fans Opinions

  • Michael Gill, 21, Staffordshire Stallions OG, believes moving Brady from the pocket will be key to a Giants victory, “I reckon it will be 22-17 to the Giants. Eli has become a clutch quarterback and when it matters he delivers. The pass rush is key because if they give Brady too much time then he’ll pick them off”.
  • During a recent interview Fight For The Yard conducted with Sky Sports analyst Neil Reynolds, he predicted a New England victory, “I am quite proud of myself after backing the Patriots in pre-season although I am shocked that neither the Packers or Saints will be playing against them. Patriots for me”.
  • Terrance Martin, 21, Staffordshire Stallions OLB, can only see one winner, “Giants. Eli is determined to win in Peyton’s house. I cannot wait!”.

Half time show

Madonna has been selected to perform in the world famous halftime show. She joins acts such as U2, The Who, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Tom Jones in featuring in the prestigious twelve minute slot. Other acts LMFAO, Cee-Lo Green and Nicki Minaj will also be performing at some stage.

Madonna

While most of the world will be admiring the pyrotechnics on display, former Colts head coach and NBC analyst will watching a three minute video about adoption and has encouraged everyone to download it. I won’t be but feel free to at http://www.adoptionjourney.com/share/dungyhalftime/

Prediction

The New York Giants go into the game as the ‘hot’ team beating the likes of the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers on their journey to the big game while the Patriots have only had one real test coming against Baltimore Ravens after breezing past the much hyped Denver Broncos.

Brady’s main offensive weapon has been wearing a medical boot all week and his practice limited so for the Pats to realistically trouble the Giants defence they will have to try and get some sort of running game established to halt the impressive New York pass rush. Having said this, if one man can win it for New England then Brady is that man.

Being a Peyton Manning fan myself, I won’t begrudge his little Eli from winning this one and getting one over his old nemesis Tom Brady.

Giants 24 – 17 Patriots





NFL Playoffs Division Games P1

14 01 2012

Anyone got the time? Don’t look confused, you know what I’m on about . . .

It’s TEBOWTIME!

The Denver Broncos train rolls into Foxborough this weekend but before that is a tasty encounter between the free scoring New Orleans Saints and the rejuvenated San Francisco 49ers.

The Saints led by the record-breaking Drew Brees have taken the second half of the season by storm going undefeated since week 8 of the regular season.

Seemingly scoring at will, Brees surpassed Dan Marino’s long-standing regular season passing yards record with a total of 5,476 in a year that has been dominated by the quarterback position with Brady and Stafford also throwing for more than five thousand yards.

Brees’ biggest weapon has been second year tight end Jimmy Graham out of Miami. Graham caught the ball 99 times and made 1,310 yards scoring 11 touchdowns in the process and if New Orleans are to make yards on a tough 49ers defence, this partnership must flourish.

Drew Brees

Possibly the greatest acquisition in the preseason throughout the entire league was Darren Sproles. The 5ft6″ dynamo looks like a talent reborn after his release from San Diego Chargers and is just as big a threat when thrown to as he is dancing through opposition defences.

The team standing between the Saints and a potential mega showdown with the reigning Superbowl champs Green Bay is the NFC West conquerors San Francisco.

The turn around from last season has been outstanding, no great changes to the roster were needed  with the exception of sacking supreme Aldon Smith. Rookie Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has given confidence to a stuttering franchise and unlocked the talent in Alex Smith that niners fans have been waiting to see since they gave up the opportunity to draft Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Aldon Smith

The main running threat for the niners is Pro Bowler Frank Gore who finised the regular season with over 1,000 yards rushing and 8 hard fought touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball the Niners have been nothing short of brilliant, conceeding only three rushing touchdowns all year. When looked at closely this becomes an even greater achievement as they are in the same division as running backs Marshawn Lynch and Steven Jackson who are able to power through most defences at will.

Linebacker Patrick Willis has been a rock in defense in his five years in San Francisco and that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. This season has seen a slight dip in on field performance but his impact on the team is still huge and he will once again be key to the 49ers chances.

If San Francisco are to win then it will have to be a close game because they do not have the offense to be involved in a high scoring shootout. New Orleans are the form team coming into this game and I believe that will be a key factor with the Saints coming out on top. As long as they can cope with an open air stadium. . .

New Orleans Saints 32 – 17 San Francisco 49ers

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

New England are in the playoffs, AGAIN, yawn!

Brady and his poor defense have made it through to the post season once again and almost nobody even noticed.

Gronkowski and Hernandez have been exceptional for the Patriots and have been able to dig the defence out of some deep holes on the way. Rob Gronkowski has scored 17 touchdowns and made 1,327 yards to Aaron Hernandez’s 7 touchdowns and 910 yards.

Rob Gronkowski

On the outside wide receiver Wes Welker has had his biggest season to date with 1,569 yards and 9 touchdowns, a far cry from his unproductive days in sunny Miami.

The New England defense is ranked 31st in the league, the only team ranked worse is 15-1 Green Bay Packers ‘0_O’, and if it wasn’t for Tom, the Pats would be in dire straits.

Vince Wilfork has only 3.5 sacks so far this season and that goes some way to explaining the problems faced on defense so far. Devin McCourty was a ProBowl selection last year but has failed to reach the same heights this year.

With the option attack of the Broncos on the horizon even the most die-hard Patriot fans will be fearing Timothy and his merry men.

Tim Tebow, what can I say that hasn’t been said?

Tim Tebow

Tim started the season behind starting quarterback Kyle Orton on the Denver Broncos depth chart much to the annoyance of the Bronco fans who have been ecstatic since his arrival in 2010 NFL Draft.

When he got his chance after Orton’s woeful beginning most critics were, well, critical of the teams chances with this unconventional quarterback at the helm but as Tim does best (apart from fourth quarter drives), he proved them all wrong by leading them to the playoffs, something that looked a distant fantasy a few months back.

Von Miller was Denver’s first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and he has stepped up to the professional game with absolute ease culminating in 11.5 sacks and that was with a cast on his right hand. Add Miller to the mix of Bailey, Dumervill and Williams and you have one very productive defense.

Denver have a strong running game with McGahee, Ball and of course Tebow and have one of the best offensive lines in the business to protect the elusive Tim.

I think it’s clear to see who I favour in this contest (Denver Broncos) but I do believe Brady and his poor defense will come away with the victory.

Denver Broncos 13 – 21 New England Patriots