When the 2015 NFL schedule was released, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers looked at the game in mid-December against the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field and said, "At least we will see Peyton Manning in the cold and late in the season." Such a sentiment had developed after Manning's late season swoon in 2014, largely due to arm fatigue late in the season, and in colder weather.
As the 2015 season has progressed, Manning has become a story lingering in the background as Brock Osweiler has quarterbacked the team to a 3-2 record since taking over the reigns of the once high-powered Broncos offense. Osweiler has been very efficient for Denver in his time at quarterback. He is sporting a 63.5 completion percentage, has thrown 5 touchdowns to 3 interception and an average QB Rating of 85.4. This compared to Manning's double digit interception totals, and the Steelers might wish they were facing the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Nonetheless, when Mike Tomlin was asked at his weekly press conference which quarterback the team was preparing for, he didn't dodge the question by talking about preparing for both. Rather, he simply stated they were preparing for Osweiler.
Osweiler is a different animal compared to Manning, and one which is a more straight forward assignment for the Steelers defense. He is more mobile than Manning, but don't expect Osweiler to have the same cerebral approach to dissecting a defense like Peyton Manning.
In Osweiler's two losses, to the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, he has struggled in different areas. Against the Chiefs, in his first start, he threw only 24 passes, completing 58-percent of this throws. Against the Raiders in Week 14, he threw the ball 51 times and failed to throw a touchdown pass, the first time of the 2015 season.
The one constant with Osweiler in 2015 is him being prone to making a mistake. He has thrown an interception in three of his five starts, as well as a fumble against Oakland last week. Great news for an opportunistic defense like the Steelers, who rank tied for 4th in the NFL with 24 takeaways on the season.
Either way you look at it, the Steelers will have their hands full when the Broncos come to Heinz Field Sunday. Head coach Gary Kubiak's offense has an assortment of weapons at their disposal like Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and Owen Daniels. It seems the Steelers have gone all-in on preparing for Osweiler to quarterback the Broncos this Sunday.