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Pregame jitters (and predictions)

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  January 14, 2012 05:48 PM

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Don't know about you guys, but the closer we get to game time, the more nervous I become. I'll chalk that up to the anticipation of a playoff game rather than any fear of The Tebow.

Four quick pregame thoughts/predictions just for the fun of it. I'll be fine if just the final one proves correct:

1. Rob Gronkowski will have a big game: Yeah, daring call there, right? When doesn't he have a big game. Well, actually, in the previous meeting with Denver on December 18, he had just four catches for 53 yards. With Denver's pair of superb pass rushers, Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, both banged up, Gronk won't be required to stay in and block on passing downs nearly as much. Put him down for 7-95-2. Conservatively.

2. Devin McCourty will pick off Tim Tebow: McCourty has had well-documented struggles in pass coverage when his back is to the ball this season. But if he again sees time at safety, where he can play facing Tebow, he'll have a couple of chances to be a ballhawk on some erratic throws.

3. Stevan Ridley will be the game's leading rusher: The quick and powerful rookie running back had a career high in carries (15) and yards (81) in the regular-season finale against Buffalo. He'll surpass both today. The suspicion here is that Belichick (and Bill O'Brien ... and Josh McDaniels for at least this week) has been waiting for the right time to unleash the closest thing they have to a game-breaking running back. Today is the day.

4. Final score: Patriots 38, Broncos 13. Until next year, Tebow.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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