The Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos have some history together, and you don't have to go far back in the history books to find it. These two teams just met in Week 15, with the Steelers boasting a 21-0 number in the second half as they won the game at Heinz Field. Now, as both teams prepare for the AFC Divisional round, the Steelers look much different. Ben Roethlisberger has a shoulder injury and DeAngelo Williams and Antonio Brown have both been ruled out of the game.
The Steelers were the first team to have their quarterback throw for over 300 yards against the Broncos defense, as well as the first team to score more than 30 points on the top-ranked defensive unit. Will it happen again? I got to sit down with the Mile High Report (SB Nation's Broncos website) to discuss this matchup from the other side of the coin. Be sure to check out the Mile High Report for the best news on the upcoming game, from the Broncos side of the story.
The Broncos have been very vocal about the Steelers, especially Cody Wallace, and the way they play the game. As a fan, do you wish the team would just keep quiet, or do you like a little trash talk?
Trash talk is just boastful or insulting talk meant to intimidate opponents or bolster morale for your team. Discussing Wallace's dirty play in the media to me is a way of putting Pittsburgh and Wallace himself on notice that the team thinks it was an "out of bounds" move he made and that they are ticked off about it.
I'd prefer teams handle their business internally and coaches would correct that kind of play by benching their players without including the media and fans, but that doesn't happen unfortunately. The system is set up so that lines are blurred and men with either low moral codes or no understanding of what honor is make the decisions. Whatever it takes to win is the battle cry. It isn't a problem if they don't throw a flag is the institution.
I'll wrap it up by saying I don't like that kind of bull from any player on any team including mine an step on down from my soapbox.
Peyton Manning has been up and down this season. Are you, and the fan base, excited or apprehensive about Manning getting under center when the games matter the most?
I'm cautiously optimistic as is most of Broncos Country. I think this was the plan that was formulated between Elway, Kubiak, and Manning during their early meetings right after Kubiak's hire. Why else would there be incentives that would recoup the 4 million dollar cut Peyton took at the beginning of the season?
There is something to be said for experience and Manning's ability to dissect defenses at the line. He's lost a step and his throwing has lost a lot of punch.That being said, he doesn't have to put up Star Wars numbers for us anymore. Just guide the offense and let the defense help win the game.
Speaking of quarterbacks, how long do you think Manning's leash is with Gary Kubiak in this game? If Manning throws 3 first half interceptions, does Kubiak turn to Osweiler in the second half, or does he ride with the Sheriff till the bitter end?
I think you hit it on the head. If he throws 3 bad picks and the team is looking lost like they did in week 17 against San Diego, he'll make a change. One thing Kubiak has touted all year long is that the he does what he thinks is best for the team. The one time it was obvious he didn't, he took his lumps and owned it (starting Manning against KC injured).
The Broncos defense is the best unit in the league, but where are their weaknesses? Every team has a kink in the armor somewhere.
The only weakness I've seen in the defense this year is our depth at safety. I'm not even joking. There is no weakness with the starters. You guys had front row seats to the weakness of this defense. The Steelers carved us up when we had Josh Bush and Shiloh Keo out there. Of our two starters, Darian Stewart is the defensive MVP to the season in my mind. He makes everything work.
What are your keys to victory for this game, and what is your prediction?
First off, Peyton can't go back to playing hero ball and throwing stupid duck passes into double and triple coverage. He needs to eat the sack or throw the ball away.
Second, the defense needs to employ zone concepts to keep your passing attack from finding mismatches deep. You have 3 really awesome WRs and instead of trying to man up all over and keep trying it until it works, I expect Wade Phillips to scheme for them and give help.
Finally, the offensive line has to run block at the competent levels we were seeing at the end of the season. We need the run game to work or the Steelers will put our aging QB in some very bad situations.
Denver wins at home 24 - 17.