The Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos are about to square off in Week 15 at Heinz Field, and while the Pittsburgh offense vs. the Denver defense is the marquee matchup, the Steelers defense vs. the Broncos offense could be what truly swings the tide in this game.
The Broncos offense, quarterbacked by Brock Osweiler, has struggled to put up points with Osweiler under center. In games where he plays Denver is averaging a mere 17.8 points per game and are 3-2 in those 5 games. One of the reasons for the lack of offensive output has been an injury depleted offensive line which has struggled protecting the quarterback throughout the season.
Denver has surrendered 32 sacks in 2015, tied for 11th in the NFL, and the Steelers have registered 38 sacks throughout 2015, which is ranked 5th in the NFL. This number shows a vast improvement from the previous two seasons for the Steelers, where they have already surpassed their season totals with three games remaining.
The 'X-Factor' in the upcoming matchup will be the Steelers ability to pressure Osweiler, to the point where he is inclined to make risky throws which could equate in turnovers for the Pittsburgh defense. Osweiler has been prone to turnovers as the starter for the Broncos. He has thrown 3 interceptions and lost a fumble in five games this season, and the Steelers will need to win the turnover battle to ensure victory.
The Steelers have gotten pressure on the quarterback from a variety of personnel. Cameron Heyward has 6 sacks, James Harrison has 5, Stephon Tuitt has 4.5 and rookie Bud Dupree has 4, and them pressuring Osweiler into mistakes, or bringing him down to the ground, will be paramount for Pittsburgh as they look to move their record to 9-5 and enhance their odds of making the playoffs for back-to-back season.