Game: Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Date: January 8th 2012
Time: 4:30PM Eastern Time
Line: Steelers: -9
Tebowmania is in the building and the Playoffs as the Denver Broncos and the number one rushing offense in the NFL host the Pittsburgh Steelers and the number one overall and passing defense. The Broncos will look to force the issue with the run behind Tebow and 1,000 yard rusher Willis McGahee. The Steelers will counter on offense with two time Champion Ben Roethlisberger playing on an ankle that has hampered his play for nearly the entire month of December. With an inability to step into throws Big Ben or evade the rush as he can Ben has been left to a 56% completion rate with 3 interceptions in his last two starts. Over that period he has missed a game and the Pittburgh offense, with hi playing, on has one touchdown. To add more injury to injry, the Steelers will be without their leading rusher in Rashard Mendenhall, who tore his ACL in the season finale versus the Cleveland Browns and possibly starting Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey with a similar high ankle sprain to Roethlisberger's.
With that said the Steelers still sport a strong defense that is number one overall and number one against the pass, holding opposing quarterbacks to 54% completion percentages, 171 yards a game and a paltry 71.7 quarterback rating. Toss in the fact that they are a top ten run defense, only 300 yards of leader San Francisco's pace and you have a defense that can win a game for your offense, healthy or not. This defense also, unlike it's offense, will be nearly at full strength, with a full complement of healthy and dangerous linebackers, run stopping lineman and playmaker Troy Polamalu. The Steelers will only be with Safety Ryan Clark, though he is their leading tackler at 100.
The Broncos defense, though only ranked 20th, is better than its ranking.may suggest. They have captain Champ Bailey in the secondary to limit Mike Wallace, defensive rookie of the year candidate Von Miller at linebacker and sack master Elvis Dumervill on the line. This a fast defense with very solid linebacker play.
The 4th seeded Denver Broncos will fall to the 5th seeded Pittsburgh Steelers (Barely) due to the Steelers superior defense, ability to get to the quarterback and ability to stop the run (the d-lines ability to demand the o-lines attention leaves the linebackers free to make full tackles.)
The Broncos will struggle to pass against the Steelers and could witness a horrible day by second year QB Tim Tebow. Expect blind side rushers (Ziggy Hood and Lamar Woodley) to have a great day rushing from the right side of the line. Willis Mcgahee to be a non-factor (33 yards a game against Steelers in career). If the Broncos are to have any success they will have to pass over top the Steelers D, but Tebow won't get nearly enough time to wait for that to develop.
The Steelers may have to wait for Big Ben's ankle to warm up, and will be able to lean on backup Issac Redman, favored as the better back over Mendenhall by Pittsburgh media, against an 11th ranked run defense until the play action play and Big Ben ankle can develop into factors.
Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Denver Broncos 6