AFC Divisional Playoffs
(6) Steelers at (1) Broncos
Steelers: You talk about having to grind a game out, that’s what the Steelers did in that game last week against Cincinnati along with the Bengals shooting themselves in the foot at the wrong time. I was impressed with how the Steelers offense moved the football down the field. Without Williams at running back, they’re now down to their third and fourth string running backs in Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman. They both did a good job at holding onto the ball and getting some hard-fought and well-earned yards. Injuries have hit this team hard throughout the year and heading into the playoffs and at this point during a long and rough season, everybody is banged up. They’ve lost Bell already for the second straight season, DeAngelo Williams is hurt with an ankle injury and probably won’t play again this weekend, Ben has an AC sprain and torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder and he even said he told Todd Haley to call plays where he could throw short passes and the biggest injury is to Antonio Brown and it’s not looking good for him to play. They now travel to the Mile High city to face the top seed in the AFC.
Broncos: It’s been an interesting season for the Denver Broncos. They got off to a 7-0 and Peyton Manning wasn’t even the reason why they were winning football games because their defense finally got it together and carried the team on its shoulders. Peyton goes down with the torn plantar, Brock Osweiler comes in and leads them to a 4-2 record. He struggled in the final game of the year against San Diego and Peyton came in and he didn’t look bad at all. When you’re fully healthy, it makes a tremendous difference. He was able to step into his throws once he released the football, Kubiak finally had him under center instead of the pistol formation, he was able to run the half back stretch and get the ball to his running back, his passes had zip on them because we’ve spoken about how he’s lost the arm strength over the years and he didn’t throw an interception which I think is the most important thing. He’s back to make another run in the playoffs and that starts with the Steelers coming to town Sunday afternoon.
Prediction: It was huge that the Broncos finished with the top seed in the AFC. Let teams come to you and that’s a tough place to play in all honesty. When these two met a few weeks back in December, Denver got off to an early lead and the Steelers erased it to get back into the game and win the game behind the stellar play of Antonio Brown. It’s looking like he may not play which will be a big loss for the Steelers offense. Ben is injured, there’s no DeAngelo Williams and possibly no Antonio Brown and you’ll have to try your best to move the football down the field on this defense. I truly feel this is the most complete team the Broncos have had in quite some time. I like the Broncos to advance in this one. Broncos 31 Steelers 17