Steelers at Broncos to Wrap Up Wild Card Weekend

The Steelers first trip to trying to get back to the Super Bowl will be in Denver, and the game will be the late game next Sunday to wrap up Wild Card Weekend.

The NFL announced late Sunday that the Steelers and Broncos will play at 4:15pm Sunday afternoon. The game will be the finale of the weekend, and will be broadcast nationally on CBS.

Denver will enter the postseason in a deep funk. Since jumping to a 16-7 first-half lead over the Patriots three weeks back, the Broncos have been outscored 73-24.

They will enter the game vs the Steelers losing three in a row, including the regular season finale Sunday in Denver, losing to the Chiefs 7-3.

The Steelers beat the Broncos in Denver on Monday night football in 2009 in week 8, winning rather easily 28-10. They also won in the postseason in Denver in 2005, beating Denver 34-17 to claim the AFC Title.

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6 Responses to “Steelers at Broncos to Wrap Up Wild Card Weekend”

  1. JJ says:

    Prior to those last two Steelers victories in Denver, it seems to me that there have been very few victories in Mile High Stadium for the Steelers. I always felt that the combination of jet lag and the altitude drained all the energy from the Steelers about halfway through the 3rd qtr. Have the Steelers found a magic elixir?

  2. DrGeorge says:

    JJ, this shapes up as a battle between one-dimensional teams. Usually NFL defenses try to make the opposing offense one dimensional. But that won’t be necessary this time. Denver and Pittsburgh already are.

    To take advantage of Tebow’s extraordinary ability (running) and minimize his weakness (passing), Denver revamped their entire offense and intentionally made themselves one dimensional. They are a running team to the extreme. But live by the sword, and die by the sword. Any team able to shut down the Denver rushing attack and cover the short passing routes can beat Denver handily. At least, that has been the formula in Denver’s 3 consecutive losses, a feat made easier by the fact that Tebow throws and runs almost exclusively to his left. The Steelers’ defense is uniquely qualified to follow that same script and shut down Denver.

    Ordinarily, the Steelers would be favored to win this game big. But with our injuries to key players, the Steelers aren’t playing like themselves. We have the depth to overcome the altitude and jet lag, but injuries limit us, especially on offense. Yet, even before Ben’s latest injury, Arians’ offense struggled. In fact, his aerial circus strategy has made the Steelers nearly one dimensional all year long.

    Now,in the playoffs,that flaw will become more pronounced, because:
    1. The injury to Mendenhall will further limit our ground game, and Redman, who is the more powerful runner and now, by default, our main runner, has suddenly developed fumblitis.
    2. Arians has never shown a talent for running the ball effectively, anyway. (Our 166 total rushing yards against Cleveland are less impressive when you look at the average per carry. The Ravens ran for 221 against Cincinnati, by comparison.)
    3. Our backs often have no holes to run through because our play calling is so predictable. Our rushing offense lacks imagination.
    4. Denver’s defensive front is solid.

    Given all that, I expect Arians to rely even more heavily on the aerial circus. Don’t be surprised if we pass 75% of the time against Denver.

    We will beat Denver — not by much — because they are even more one dimensional than we are. But our chances after that don’t look good. Even before the injury to Ben, our offense struggled. Pittsburgh averaged only 17.5 points in the last six games, a number inflated by the 35 point barrage laid on Cincinnati and the 27 points against hapless St. Louis engineered by Batch. A Rothlisberger-led offense that can manage only 13 points against Cleveland and only 3 points against San Fran. is not ready for a rematch with New England or Baltimore.

    So let’s enjoy the Denver game, JJ. It looks like our last hurrah for this season.

  3. Rich says:

    Agree totally George. I expect Pitt to win, but in what will be a close, lose scoring game. Recently, this offense has just been pathetic. Injuries has something to do with that, but it’s more than that. But even beyond the last month or so, this team has been poor offensively on the road all season. Three of their losses have been on the road, and then you have the awful performances at Indy, KC, and Cleveland. There is nothing I’ve seen this year that should make me think this offense is going to shine in Denver. Low scoring game coming up.

  4. Peter says:

    Doc, I agree that the steelers will probably throw it close to 75% of the time, which is maddening. I disagree that Denver’s defensive front is solid. They are ranked in the bottom third in the NFL in defense. Even though the Steelers ariel circus will continue in Denver, I think the Steelers win this comfortably. The only way we don’t win comfortably is if we turn it over or give up big plays on special teams.

    I am not at all concerned about losing 34. He is inconsequential to the Steelers success or failure. The reason i say that is because the Steelers don’t want to run the ball any way so having 34 back there is irrelevant. They don’t use him the right way when he is back there so it doesn’t matter. They should come to a medical settlement with him for his release sometime after the league year starts in March. I have always been bitter about drafting him instead of Duane Brown, the starting LT for the Texans. We could of had Brown in round 1 and Ray Rice in round 2. INstead we pick 34 in round 1 and Sweed in round 2 who is probably not even in the league any more. I know, I know…let it go…

    Go Steelers

    • DrGeorge says:

      Peter, I agree with you about Mendenhall. If Redman can hold onto the ball, we won’t miss Mendy. This might be a good game to let John Clay carry the mail a little, too. But Arians disdains the run, and Redman will probably see fewer carries than Mendy got, simply because he isn’t a #1 pick. There has been a bias in Mendy’s favor for years, because it’s embarrassing to Tomlin to have to admit that an UFA RB like Redman is equal to or better than his #1 pick.

      With hindsight, I like your revised picks (Brown and Rice), but at the time, Mendenhall was considered the best available. I can’t fault Tomlin for that pick. Mendy has been productive, especially given the second-rate blocking schemes and play calling of Arians. Sweed was considered a steal at the time, if you can believe that. Most analysts gave both picks high marks. Dixon and Mundy are the other survivors from that 2008 draft class. Three good players out of eight picks is about par for the course. Drafting remains more art than science.

      As for the Denver defense, I said the front was solid at stopping the run; the Denver secondary has holes, and Ben will find them.

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