Divisional Playoff NFL Picks: High Scoring Expected For Steelers & Broncos Game

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 8:20 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016 8:20 PM UTC

The Broncos and Steelers tussle for a second time in less than a month. Strong Ds and injuries are expected to keep scoring down. But it the total too low for our NFL Pick?

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NFL Pick: Over 39
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Steelers vs. Broncos
The Broncos and Steelers clashed less than month ago in Pittsburgh with the Black and Gold coming out on top 34-27 as touchdown favorites. Denver is the site for the divisional-round playoff rematch, this time the AFC West champions laying 7 points.


Pittsburgh Steelers (11-6 SU, 8-7-2 ATS, 6-11 O/U)
Pittsburgh opened the second half of its season posting 30 points or more in six straight games, but has mustered 17, 28, and 18 in its last three respectively. The high-octane offense has slowed due in large part to a rash of late-season injuries. 

RB DeAngelo Williams, who stepped in for the injured Le’Veon Bell (knee), is “not looking good” to play this weekend, pestered by a bum foot for weeks. QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has sustained his fair share of maladies over the course of the season, is suffering from a sprained AC joint and torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder, picked up in the team’s wild-card playoff victory over the Bengals. Star WR Antonio Brown, meanwhile, is day-to-day after landing on the league concussion protocol following a late-game cheap shot by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict last week.

Nevertheless, the Steelers have many weapons and one of the best O-lines in the NFL—they will find ways to compete and put up points even with Roethlisberger ailing. He is “day-to-day” officially, but the two-time Super Bowl champ is as tough as they come and expected to play through the pain. He may be limited to short passes, but it is his experience, decision-making skills, and leadership abilities needed in this postseason tilt. Jordan Rodman and Fitzgerald Toussaint will head the rushing attack for a second week in a row. They ran for a respectable 123 yards on 28 carries in the Bengals victory. 


Denver Broncos (12-4 SU, 7-7-2 ATS, 6-8-2 O/U)
Denver’s offense has struggled to find points in the second half of its season. In its last eight games, the unit is averaging just 20.4 points per game. The offense can move the ball fine, but struggle to punch it in the end zone, scoring a TD on only 48 possessions inside the 20-yard line (27th in the NFL). The team welcomes back Peyton Manning under center, his first start in two months. Maybe the Canton-bound veteran can conjure up some of his old magic missing in his first stint as starter. 

Denver’s 283.1 total yards allowed per game are the fewest in the NFL. Yielding just 4.4 yards per play—tops in the league—it stuffed the run for 3.3 yards per carry and the pass for 5.6 per attempt. The unit is stout, but it did play against its fair share of poor offenses on the season. 

The OVER has cashed in only six Denver contests all season, but four of those have hit in the five games in which they played a team averaging 375 total yards or more on offense entering the game. The Steelers amass 393 per tilt headed into this one.


Final Analysis
Although the game sets up to be a defensive struggle on paper, and with a flood of key injuries to boot, there may be some value in taking the OVER at such a low total (39). Despite their injuries, the Steelers have a chance at winning this one outright (I’m taking the +7), barring Manning finding the Fountain of Youth during his spell on the sidelines. The four games Denver dropped this season were against teams (including the Steelers) averaging 4.0 yards or more per rushing attempt (3-4 SU, 2-4-1 ATS); it was 8-0 SU, 4-2-1 ATS against those rushing for less. The Steelers will find ways to score with an injured Roethlisberger under center—they always do. The Broncos will be right there with them. OVER 39 is the play. 

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