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Tim Tebow 5th best QB in league, not 5th worst, says Sports Illustrated

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It's yet another indication of how the Tim Tebow phenomenon has split so-called NFL experts.

Earlier this week, we noted that ESPN's Total QBR ranking system lists Tebow as the fifth worst quarterback in the NFL despite a 6-1 record this season that found him besting signal-callers all slotted above him on the roster. Days later, however, a Sports Illustrated scribe has rated him the fifth best.

Here's how SI's Jim Trotter justifies Tebow's placement above every hurler other than the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, the Saints' Drew Brees, the Patriot's Tom Brady and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger:

He looked so completely lost as a passer after his first two starts this season, I put him 31st in my midseason rankings. But Tebow is a different QB today. He has flourished since the Broncos adjusted their offense to take advantage of his read-option skill set.

Overall, he is 6-1 as a starter, with 11 touchdowns (nine passing) and only two turnovers (one fumble, one INT). But his incredible rise up the rankings is due to him coming up biggest when games matter most: at the end. Review the Broncos' last six wins and you will see Tebow was an integral factor in the outcome, particularly down the stretch. Will it last? Who cares? The rankings are about today, not tomorrow.

These last couple of questions give Trotter an out in case Tebow stinks up Mile High versus the Chicago Bears this weekend -- or if the Broncos' bubble really bursts the following week against the New England Patriots and the mighty Brady. To put it mildly, an enormous number of longtime NFL observers see The Chosen One's success as a combination of flukes and lucky breaks, and they expect him to falter in a big way soon.

All of which helps to explain why Tebow has become the league's most divisive figure -- and why millions of us will be watching on Sunday to see the latest chapter in the season's most improbable story.

One more thing: Back in the '70s, another Broncos team defied expectations and marched all the way to the Super Bowl (where they lost, but let's ignore that part of the story). And their theme song referenced a higher power: "Make Those Miracles Happen," warbled by one of the squad's running backs, Jon Keyworth. Click if you dare, true believers.

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More from our Sports archive: "Tim Tebow's 10 most motivational Bible verse recommendations & when to use them (PICS)."

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