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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wildcard Sunday - - Foreshadowing The Destruction of Tebow (wishful thinking...?)

Before I get into some big, overblown, drawn out explanation of how the Steelers can beat the Broncos later today, let me just say this...The Steeler's D has two jobs today...stopping the run and preventing the "big" play. All week, the analysts and reporters have all been talking about how Denver is going to start slinging the ball and if they are going to win, Tebow will have to come out throwing.  While this is probably true, lets' face facts here.  The "chosen one" has completed 41% of his passes in the last three games and has 1 TD to 4 INTs.  So I don't expect them to be gun-slinging like former Bronco legend John Elway says they will. 

Instead, Denver is going to run the ball.  They have the top ranked running game in the league and the Steelers have shown time and time again that this year has been an "off" year for their normally #1 ranked run defense. The key is going to be for the front line to not allow anything through.  Too often this year, the Steelers D has looked more like a piece of Swiss cheese rather than the Steel Curtain.  The front guys have missed their marks which have opened up holes into the linebackers.  Unfortunately, the backs have just missed their assignments all too often.  The Steelers secondary can't be relied on to stifle the running game by themselves and 90% of the time, at that point it is too late.   

With all that being said, the potential problem is the Steelers offense.  While the defense should be able to hold their own versus a one dimensional Denver offense, the offensive line will have to come up big trying to protect Big Ben and his bum ankle.  Expect to see a ton of multiple tight end schemes to give Ben a little more time by holding off the outside rushers.  The second issue is the running attack.  Denver is beatable on the ground but Pittsburgh is without Mendenhall and will instead go with Isaac Redman and his former practice squad teammate John Clay.  Both of these guys can pound the ball but don't offer much in the way of finesse running. 

Since I don't think Denver can put up a ton of points, if the Steelers come out of the gate and get up early by a couple scores, the game could be over.  Stopping the running game and forcing Tebow into throwing situations or flushing him out of the pocket early could lead to some turnovers.  My prediction:  The Steelers come out throwing, score a couple of nice, long, time consuming drives to go up 14-0 and then break out the running game to wear down the Broncos D.  As long as Ben can keep the ball out of the other team's hands and if Troy can pull out a couple of big plays, this will be a good victory en route to New England.

Final score:  Pittsburgh 31, Denver 13

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