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Game of the Week: Bears at Broncos
Beatlemania. Fernandomania. Pyromania. Hulkamania. Yet those fervors can't hold a candle to the epidemic sweeping the nation's landscape known as Tebowmania. The narrative has become as clichéd and predictable as an episode of Friday Night Lights: a slow and apathetic three quarters of football, followed by a riveting and last-second comeback as Tim Tebow and the Broncos dramatically defy defeat. The mayhem returns to Denver this Sunday, as the Chicago Bears heroically try to end this gridiron marvel in Mile High, serving as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
The Bears enter Week 14 in desperation mode. True, the team owns tie-breakers over Atlanta and Detroit for a playoff berth, but injuries to stars Jay Cutler and Matt Forte have thrown a wrench into their postseason aspirations. Worse, substitute signal caller Caleb Hanie has been brutal in reserve, hitting just 48.3 percent of his intended targets and turning the ball over six times in the past two weeks.
Nonetheless, there remains a glimmer of hope in the Windy City. While Forte is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks, fill-in Marion Barber has been decent in abbreviated action this season for the Bears, and certainly has the experience and aptitude to hold down the fort. And the defense, although rising in age, endures as one of the tougher units in football. The rush resistance is yielding 99.8 yards per game on the ground, third-best in the NFC. The secondary has displayed a penchant for giving up a plethora of passing yards, yet the squad's 16 picks rank second in the conference. Da Bears might be down, but they are far from out.
The Broncos can second this sentiment. Heading into the bye week with a disappointing 1-4 record, Denver was left for dead in the eyes of many pigskin pundits. A change under center from Kyle Orton to Tebow seemed more like a transaction to appease the rabid fan base rather than one to better the team. Tebow did little to challenge this claim, looking lost and overwhelmed in his first two contests. However, after catering the offense to his skillset, the Broncos have strung together five straight W's and suddenly find themselves atop the AFC West.
Tebow's presence may have served as catalyst for the turnaround, but he's hardly the only Bronco performing at an elite level. Willis McGahee, who was believed to be washed-up at 30, has racked up 886 yards on a meager 182 carries this season. Second-year stud Eric Decker has hauled in eight scores, and the Denver defense, once viewed as the weak link, has held opponents to 13 points or less in three of the past four games.
So who wins this clash of postseason aspirants? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Denver Broncos come out on top 55.1 percent of the time by an average margin of 18-17. For the rest of this week's scores, check below:
Please note: The Browns/Steelers, Raiders/Packers, Rams/Seahawks and Texans/Bengals games were resimulated on 12/8 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 14
|@ Baltimore Ravens||92.6||31||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||81.2||27||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||28.6||16||Boxscore|
|@ New York Jets||71.4||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Green Bay Packers||69.3||25||Simulate Game|
|@ San Diego Chargers||66.9||27||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||61.9||25||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||41.6||23||Boxscore|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||58.4||26||Simulate Game|
|St. Louis Rams||43.3||18||Boxscore|
|@ Seattle Seahawks||56.7||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Denver Broncos||55.1||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Miami Dolphins||47.1||22||Simulate Game|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||59.7||20||Boxscore|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||40.3||16||Simulate Game|
|@ Cincinnati Bengals||40.0||16||Simulate Game|
|@ Carolina Panthers||38.9||22||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||63.0||29||Boxscore|
|@ Tennessee Titans||37.0||24||Simulate Game|
|San Francisco 49ers||66.9||23||Boxscore|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||33.1||16||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||81.9||31||Boxscore|
|@ Washington Redskins||18.1||20||Simulate Game|
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