Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers meet at Mile High for the final game of the Wildcard round of the NFL playoffs. The Steelers are -8 point favorites over the Broncos with an over/under point total set at 34.5.
The Denver Broncos didn’t finish the season with any kind of momentum playing poorly and losing their last three games. While some may say John Fox’s Broncos backed into the playoffs, they did what they need to do over the course of the season to make a playoff berth possible. The big story in Denver this season was Tim Tebow who didn’t put together any kind of passing numbers, completing just 46.5 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing for 660 yards and six touchdowns, but Tebow engineered and delivered some of the most amazing and improbable comeback wins. Willis McGahee had a comeback year averaging 4.8 yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns while gaining 1,199 yards. With the Broncos muted passing numbers the receivers’ numbers aren’t impressive but they have a nice future as Eric Decker caught 44 passes and had eight touchdowns and Demaryius Thomas 32 catches and four touchdowns. Defensively Denver allowed 357.8 yards and 24.4 yards while grabbing nine interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, and netting 41 sacks. Wesley Woodyard had 97 tackles, D.J. Williams had 90 tackles while Von Miller had 11.5 sacks and Elvis Dumervil had 9.5 sacks. Denver looked like their magic was fading fast in the final few weeks and they will need to recapture it to have any chance here.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the playoffs and after losing in the Super Bowl last season they are looking for retribution this year. It hasn’t been easy for Mike Tomlin and Pittsburgh as they have been targeted everywhere they go and by this time of the year the big hits they have delivered and have taken have all added up. Ben Roethlisberger has been able to stay standing after being hit in the pocket plenty this year but the hits have added up with him being hobbled and sidelined at points but for the year he has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 4,077 yards with 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Rashard Mendenhall is gone for the playoffs with a torn ACL so it will be Isaac Redma and Mewelde Moore trying to fill in. Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown each had breakout years with Wallace having 72 catches and eight touchdowns and Antonio Brown catching 69 passes and each of them gaining over 1,100 yards. Defensively no one did it better than the Steelers as they allowed just 271.8 yards and 14.2 points per game and they had 35 sacks, 10 fumble recoveries, and 11 interceptions. Ryan Clark had 100 tackles but he will not be playing in this one but Lawrence Timmons had 93 tackles, Troy Polamalu had 91 tackles, and LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison had nine sacks each. The Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of post season experience up and down the roster.
Denver is 5-1 against the spread in their last six home playoff games, 0-4 against the spread in their last four games overall, and 2-6-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record. Pittsburgh is 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 playoff games, 2-7 against the spread in their last nine road games, and 10-2 against the spread following a game which they didn’t cover. The underdog has covered in four of the last five meetings of these two.
The total opened at 35.5 and quickly dropped to 34.5 but I still see it staying under at that number as this one is a fast moving game belonging to the defenses.