Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) at Denver Broncos (6-1)
Date: Monday, Nov. 9, 2009
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. (ET)
Site: INVESCO Field at Mile High (76,125) Denver, Colo.
Playing Surface: DD GrassMaster
TV Coverage: ESPN
Odds: Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
Denver leads 13-6-1
At Pittsburgh: Denver leads 6-4
At Denver: Denver leads 7-2-1
Last Regular-Season Meeting: Oct. 21, 2007 (in Denver)
Denver 31, Pittsburgh 28
*Pittsburgh Advantages: QB, RB, WR/TE, LB, Coach
*Denver Advantages: OL, DL, DB, ST
Inside Analysis:What to Watch For
1. Ben Roethlisberger vs Denver’s pass defense: The Denver Broncos rank near the top in just about every defensive catergory, while Ben Roethlisberger has emerged as one of the games top quarterbacks. In fact, Mike Tomlin has stated about “1,000 times” that Denver is the No. 1 defense in the world according to Roethlisberger.
One key matchup to watch will be Ben Roethlisberger vs Brian Dawkins. Look for a cat and mouse game to be played between the two stars. Denver has a dynamic secondary led by Champ Bailey and Dawkins.
2. Denver ROLB Elvis Dumervil vs Pittsburgh LT Max Starks:
Max Starks shutdown Jared Allen in week 7 and for the second straight game he will have his hands full with a dominant pass rusher.
Dumervil has multiple sacks in 4 games this season and is quicker than Allen. Starks shutting down Dumervil Monday night will go a long way towards the Steelers being successful on offense.
The Broncos like to bring inside pressure to flush QBs out of the pocket but that plays into Roethlisberger’s game who likes to throw on the run. The Broncos are going to rely on a lot of outside pressure from Dumervil if they want to contain Roethlsiberger.
3. Eddie Royal vs Steelers special teams
The Steelers biggest feat tonight has to be the Broncos punt and kick return game. The Steelers have given up kick return touchdowns in consecutive games and Eddie Royal is among the league’s best. He’s a shifty player who will cause problems for the Steelers.
The Steelers will have special teams standout Andre Frazier back in the lineup.
*If the Steelers get pressure to Kyle Orton, they are going to be successful. Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels is going to try to beat the Steelers on short/quick passes. Pittsburgh has to be ready for the dink and dunk passes.
The Ravens made Orton try to stretch the field and they jumped on just about every route. Not only has Dick Lebeau had two weeks to prepare for the Broncos but he also has the Ravens game film from last week.
*Could tonight be a breakout game for LaMarr Woodley? He’s going to have help Nick Eason out who will make his first start of the season and Woodley will be going up against second year right tackle in Troy Polumbus who will make his first start of the season.
*The Steelers have a clear advantage at quarterback. Pittsburgh needs to stretch the field in the passing game to open up the run. Rashard Mendenhall will make his 5th start of the season. Mendenhall averaged 6.9 yards per carry against the Vikings in week 7.
Just can’t see Orton beating Roethlisberger, regardless of how difficult it is to play in Denver.
Prediction: Steelers 28 – Broncos 17