This will be another big game in as many games for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they go to Mile High to take on the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were unable to keep their undefeated record as they dropped a really ugly contest to the Baltimore Ravens last week as the Steelers sat at home and watch during their bye week.
Dick LeBeau had a full two weeks to game plan for the Broncos offense. An offense that is now headed by Kyle Orton. That is right, Kyle Orton. Dick LeBeau is the man when he has one week to prep. He gets two this week. Maybe one of the biggest games of the season when we look back at the end of the season.
Since 2002 the Steelers are 4-3 coming off bye weeks and won last years match over Cincinnati 38-10. There isn't much you can take from that but it is still pretty cool to look at.
Last week (game for Pittsburgh):
Pittsburgh 27, Minnesota 17
Passing: Roethlisberger: 14/26, 175 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 10 car, 69 yards
Receiving: Wallace: 3 rec, 72 yards, 1 TD
Baltimore 30, Denver 7
Passing: Orton: 23/37, 152 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Moreno: 10 carries 39 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Gaffney: 3 rec, 43 yards
Offense (rank in NFL)
Pittsburgh: 383 yards/game (6th)
Denver: 344.6 yards/game (14th)
Pittsburgh: 276 yards/game (5th)
Denver: 221.4 yards/game (16th)
Pittsburgh: 107 yards/game (19th)
Denver: 123.1 yards/game (11th)
Pittsburgh: 23.9 points/game (14th)
Denver: 20 points/game (20th)
Pittsburgh: 291 yards/game (8th)
Denver: 266.7 yards/game (1st)
Pittsburgh: 76.6 yards/game (1st)
Denver: 86.1 yards/game (3rd)
Pittsburgh: 214.4 yards/game (16th)
Denver: 180.6 yards/game (8th)
Pittsburgh: 18.4 points/game (7th)
Denver: 13.7 points/game (2nd)
This game is going to be huge game when you look at how the NFL playoff picture is going to start to shake out and tiebreakers are starting to look clearer as we go through the season. Right now the Broncos are 6-1 and the Steelers are 5-2. A Steelers win puts them at 6-2, the same as the Broncos with the Steelers winning the head to head match up. This is a huge game for more than that reason, but still that is a pretty big reason.
The Steelers defense is going to have to make the Denver offense one dimensional. The Steelers are very good at this but it will be important to make Denver only do one thing on offense. If the Steelers can shut down the run and put this game on Kyle Ortons shoulders then I can't see the Steelers losing unless the offense turns the ball over. If this were Jay Cutler in Denver I wouldn't feel as good about this but Kyle Orton is no Jay Cutler. Orton manages the game and if the Broncos can get a run game going they will have a good chance of winning, but I can't see that happening.
This Broncos team, offensively, is a lot like the Vikings team we just saw, statistically. When the Steelers played the Vikings their statistical rankings. The Broncos rank nearly right behind, or right in front, of the Vikings when looking at them offensively. Do I think that Denver has as good of an offense as Minnesota? Hell no. Moreno is not Peterson and Orton is not Farve. If we could pretty much keep things in check against the Vikings I think we can handle the Denver Broncos.
Statistics might tell you that the offensive line for the Steelers have been struggling to keep Big Ben off the turf. That could not be farther from the truth. The line has done a really nice job this year and after taking a lot of heat last year and early this year they are playing some nice football. Max Starks has been playing particularly well shutting down J. Allen last game and has been rock solid all year. Mendy has been running the ball pretty successfully and the line can take some of that credit as they really have moved some bodies.
That will have to continue this week. As you can tell the Broncos defense is no joke. They have been manhandling offenses (outside of Baltimore) and really using that to give their own offense some momentum to win some football games. The line will have to step up and if they keep Big Ben clean for the most part they will win this football game.
In the same breath the Broncos defense might be a little hard to figure out. To me it seems as if this defense really feeds of what it offense can do and what the crowd can bring. They are very solid in the secondary with Brian Dawkins and Champ Baily. Make no mistake, those boys can play some football. They fly around and if Ben makes a misguided throw Baily can make a play on the ball.
The Steelers will most likely come out and throw some screens, run the ball, take a chance or two and really size up what they are dealing with on the other side of the football. If the Steelers can have success on the ground it will really go a lot to open up the defense and give Ben some more allies to throw with.
Another spot to look at will be the no huddle. Ben loves running this offense and he wants to run more no huddle. It has been talked about and it was made clear this is not a "whole game" offense with the no huddle, but it will be there if they need it. If Ben can find his groove then he can have some success with the no huddle and most likely get the team a score. This could turn out to be the X factor.
To wrap it up, I really don't see the Steelers losing this one. Steelers 27, Broncos 17.