Don’t shoot the messenger, but a fair number of displaced fans of the New England Patriots that were expecting to see their favorite team play in the marquee late afternoon game on CBS on Sunday are going to be in for an unpleasant surprise.  CBS headquarters had scheduled the Pats – Eagles game to be their premier game, televised pretty much everywhere east of Iowa and New Mexico.


Then Tim Tebow became the starting quarterback in Denver.


Despite his very meager personal statistics, Denver has won four of their last five games with Tebow at quarterback, after appearing to be headed to a very early draft pick when they started out the season with four losses in their first five games. And after a thrilling last minute win over the Jets, the former Heisman Trophy quarterback is a hot commodity on television.


Hot enough to trump Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in some places.


The net result is that Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando and Tampa will now broadcast the Broncos game, due to the combination of his play in Denver and his play with the Florida Gators prior to that. In addition Amarillo and El Paso Texas have turned their backs on the Dallas Cowboys – well, not completely, but somewhat – by broadcasting the game of the team north of them, rather than a game of a division opponent of the Cowboys.


So aside from this game, will Pats fans get Tebowed again this season?


Next week’s game has gone from an annual season highlight to an afterthought due to the Colts dismal season. That game won’t be seen anywhere except in markets that always show only the Pats (and Colts) games; neutral television markets will be opting for the Bengals-Steelers instead. The following week the Pats play another early game, this one at Washington. However, once again this game will not be televised outside the primary markets of those two teams; any neutral markets will instead go with Oakland at Green Bay, or perhaps Houston at Cincinnati.


On December 15 the Pats are in Denver for a late afternoon game which should be available almost everywhere. The only places that won’t be seen in are in the markets of the four other teams playing at that same time: New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Arizona. Like I said earlier, don’t shoot the messenger.


On Christmas Eve the Pats host the Dolphins in an early game on a Sunday that is a Fox doubleheader, so that game is not going to get much distribution outside of New England and southeast Florida. That leaves the week 17 game against Buffalo which is starting to look as if it will be meaningless in the standings, and therefore will only be seen in New England and northern New York; it’s too early to say for sure, but right now there are a half dozen games that look like they could have a whole lot more interest bases on their outcomes determining who gets into the playoffs, and playoff seedings as well.


Although out of town Pats fans won’t get Tebowed and lose out on a chance to see the Pats play again this year, they won’t get to see the Pats again unless they hit a local sports bar or ponied up for the Sundat Ticket again this regular season – except, ironically, in week 15 when the Pats are at Denver. After having been available most everywhere for the last two months, many Pats fans outside of new England are going to need to start making alternate viewing plans – not just this week, but from now until the playoffs commence.