The Pittsburgh Steelers have been favorites to win the past few weeks, going back to the Week 16 game against the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh was even a slight favorite in the AFC Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.
With that win behind them, Pittsburgh prepares for a trip to Mile High to play the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs -- the Denver Broncos. On paper this could be a tremendous matchup. Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas. Martavis Bryant and Emmanuel Sanders. Von Miller and James Harrison. The list could go on and on, but injuries could change a lot of aspects of this matchup.
Injuries to Roethlisberger's throwing shoulder, DeAngelo Williams still nursing an ankle injury and Antonio Brown needing to clear the NFL's concussion protocol before returning to the field leave this contest, and the spread, up in the air.
In fact, there are several sports books in Las Vegas who have closed the book on this matchup until Roethlisberger's status is more clear, as of Monday is he listed as day-to-day. Nonetheless, other books have this game open to the public.
The opening line lists the Broncos as 2.5-point favorites, but as you research more sport books you see much more favorable odds for the home team. All four major sport books have the Broncos as 6.5-point favorites in this divisional round matchup.
Considering the Steelers beat the Broncos at Heinz Field in Week 15, albeit with Brock Osweiler at quarterback, this early spread is by far an indication on the injuries to key players on the Pittsburgh offense. If Roethlisberger practices and shows every intention of not only playing, but being able to play well, the line will most like come down a bit.
The Broncos will likely remain favored, but the line should even out if Roethlisberger, Brown and Williams are all healthy enough to play Sunday in Denver. If you think those key pieces of the puzzle will indeed suit up and be effective in the Divisional round, you might want to run to the window to take the Steelers to cover the 6.5-point spread currently offered.