Week 15 Preview: Broncos vs Steelers

The Steelers host the AFC West leaders in their final regular season home game of 2015. Photo from http://www.steelers.com

Of the three remaining games left on the Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 schedule, this matchup with the Denver Broncos is the only game left against a team with a winning record. The Broncos, who are ranked number one in total defense, giving up just 272 yards per game, should give the Steelers offense, which ranks number two overall, their toughest challenge to date. In most cases with a matchup like this, the edge would normally go to the team with a defense like the Broncos have, but in this case, this matchup favors the Steelers.

As good as the Broncos defense has been for most of this season, they have not faced an offense that has as many weapons as the Steelers do. It’s an offense that can beat you six ways from Sunday. Between Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton, Ben Roethlisberger has three receivers he can go to at anytime, anywhere on the field. If they’re covered, he has the most reliable tight end in the game, Heath Miller, as the ultimate safety blanket, or he can hit Deangelo Williams out of the backfield.

The Broncos prefer man coverage for their secondary because of corners Aquib Talib and Chris Harris. That allows the Broncos to bring safety TJ Ward up in the box to provide extra run support. In man-coverage, that leaves the secondary short one body. As good as Talib and Harris are, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant are better than anyone at creating space and beating man coverage. When they break open, Ben will find them.

The Broncos rely on their pass rush getting to the quarterback, to aid their secondary, and why not? The Broncos lead the NFL in sacks with 44, and they get to the quarterback quickly. Ben is going to have to rely on quick passes to help negate the Denver pass rush. It may not yield the big chunks of yards the offense is accustomed to, but it keeps their defense on the field, and sets up the deep ball. It would also be wise for the Steelers to attack the Broncos from the no-huddle early on. Not only will it help to wear down that Broncos front seven, but it would allow Ben to find his rhythm.

When the Steelers are on defense, they’ll be facing a Broncos offense, led by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, that has struggled to put points on the board. Keith Butler will most likely look to take away their running game and force Osweiler to try and beat the Steelers with his arm. Although the Steelers secondary has surrendered a lot of yards through the air, ranked 31st, the Steelers are tied for sixth in the NFL with 14 interceptions. The defense is also ranked 5th in the NFL with 38 sacks. If Kahlil Mack gave Osweiler bad dreams with the five sacks he had for the Raiders last week, James Harrison is sure to give Osweiler nightmares. Keith Butler will take advantage of the young quarterback and use pressure to force him into making rookie-like mistakes.

The Steelers defense is alot better than the yardage total makes them out to be, because they aren’t giving up the points one would expect. Against a weak Denver offense, the Steelers defense should be able to keep them on the bench. That means the Denver defense will spend more time on the field, wearing down against an explosive Steelers offense. This all adds up to a 38-17 Steelers victory in their final home game of the season.





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