Well, well, well. Look what we have here.
It's 10pm here in Denver. The Broncos haven't played a down in almost eight hours, yet they find themselves--if the playoffs were to start today--with a first-round bye.
Win the next two games, Broncos fans, and it's a reality.
Awesomeness happens. And it's not even Christmas yet.
Somewhere, right now, Peyton Manning is smiling. He once said he was going to make his decision to come to Denver the right one.
Thanks to Jim "Jack Frost" Harbaugh going balls out against Bill "Old Man Winter" Belichick, Manning's decision is looking better and better.
This game was possibly one of the most exciting you'll ever see. After the 49ers jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable 31-3 lead, the Patriots stormed back--so quickly in fact, I can hardly remember what happened. In a nutsheell, Brandon Lloyd made big plays, and when he didn't, he drew calls.
Ultimately, however, the game can be traced to turnovers--as is usually the case. The 49ers had five fumbles and lost just one. The Patriots, on the other hand, put the ball on the ground twice and lost both times. To be fair, the 49ers fumbled the exchange on several occasions (the defense hardly ever recovers these), but the point still remains--things can turn on the strangest bounce of a piece of pigskin.
But my, how the ball bounces when it's going your way. In this case, the 49ers' way matched perfectly the goals of the Broncos.
The other part that stood out from this game was the ability of the Niners to man cover all of the Patriots' (at least until the middle of the third quarter) weapons--specifically Wes Welker. Clearly, the Patriots are a different team without Rob Gronkowski, who presents a special set of challenges for any team. If the 49ers had faced New England with Gronkowski in the lineup, I think we'd be discussing a different outcome right now.
Colin Kaepernick also appears to be the real deal. It's way to early to crown him anything yet, but he appears to be at least be a poor man's RG3: a deadly runner with a bazooka-like arm (also makes me wonder what Jim Harbaugh could do with Tim Tebow).
What does this mean for the Broncos and who will they play? With two weeks to go, it's impossible to know for sure, but whatever happens, as long as the Broncos win out, they're going to be playing at home after a week of rest.