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AFC Wild Card Pick
Steelers vs. Broncos
The Denver Broncos host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in the last Wild Card game of the weekend. It's a matchup between arguably the best defense in the NFL, and Tim Tebow. The 8-8 Broncos are home underdogs of +9 points at 5 Dimes and the number looks like it may rise even higher. The total is 33.5.
The problem for the Broncos is the fact that NFL teams have figured out how to stop Tim Tebow. The Tebow magic worked for a few games because it was something a little different. Something they weren't prepared for. Now, there's a blueprint. Clamp down on coverage downfield, take away the lanes on each side of the field leaving only the middle for Tebow. Works like a charm. Certainly something the Steelers "D' should be able to master.
Tebow looks like he's throwing a Hail Mary every time he throws the ball. Hey, the guy is a winner. He can play in the NFL, even as a QB, but he can't be successful as a QB that takes every snap. No way. He just doesn't have the arm to keep defenses honest. Tebow would fit into a two QB system just fine. Or on a team that would use him in the red zone, or in situations where they needed to pick up a first down, as the Broncos initially used him.
John Fox needs to come up with some wrinkle for Sundays game. Whether or not that wrinkle is Brady Quinn, who knows. But without something different, it could be a long day for the Broncos.
The wrinkle is essential also because the Broncos have a chance in this game. Let's not confuse this years Steelers with the team that went to the Super Bowl last year. Or with any recent good Steelers team. There is going to be money to be made in these playoffs by betting against the Steelers this year. Simply because the public won't let go. Heck Terry Bradshaw may as well still be the QB! The Steelers are still good for some price inflation.
But this Steelers bunch has struggled at times this year. For starters, they are as banged up as can be at key positions. Rashard Mendenhall, their leading rusher is OUT. QB Ben Roethlisberger is literally being held together by a thread and suffered a further setback last week. Roethlisberger will be limited as far a mobility and that's his whole game. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers two top pass rushers have been off and on all year. If they both play, neither will be full strength.
The Steelers have struggled offensively in general, but on the road, they are among the worst in the NFL. Their yards per point number offensively on the road is a horrendous 22.5. The worst of all playoff teams! Their defense, with an overall ypp number of 19, has a ypp number of just 15.9 on the road. They managed to go 5-3 and outscore opponents by a margin of 15.6 - 14.2 on the road this year. They are also the worst of all playoff teams in turnover margin at -14 on the year.
Tuck all of that info away for future use. Because it may of may not matter this week. The Broncos offense has been almost as bad. An offensive ypp number of 18 in home games and a defensive number of 14.5. They were 3-5 at home and OUTSCORED by an average of 24-17. They are 2nd worst of all playoff teams in turnover margin at -12 on the year. Some home field advantage.
This game could be a fun one. We don't see it as an impossible task for the Broncos. John Fox and company MUST come up with something to mix things up offensively. The defense has to make some plays and score a point or two. But we think the Steelers will be lucky to get out of Denver with a "W". We don't see this game as a one sided, dominating Steeler win. The Steelers are banged up and very limited offensively. They turn the ball over way too much make too many mistakes for a veteran team.
The public is backing the Steelers, and the number here may continue to rise. At +10 or better, even if you have to lay a little extra juice, we think the Broncos are worth a good look. Also remember, if the Steelers do advance, the may be ripe for the picking in the next round. Broncos +10 or better
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