NFL Picks: Bet Broncos To Cover vs. Banged Up Steelers

Ted Sevransky

Saturday, January 16, 2016 9:22 PM GMT

Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 9:22 PM GMT

The Steelers are an absolute mess coming into this game, and they’re facing a Broncos team with a real chip on their shoulders on Sunday, bad news for the road underdog.

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NFL Pick: Broncos -7.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

To say that the Steelers have suffered a barrage of injuries at the wrong time is something of an understatement. Pittsburgh has been forced to deal with injuries galore all year.  The ongoing injury woes from one week to the next were problematic particularly when it comes to skill position talent.  

It’s a big part of the reason why the Steelers were so inconsistent this year, capable of stepping up with a dynamic performance one week but unable to sustain that level of effort for any extended stretches.  The Steelers had one six game stretch with just about everybody on board, and they hung 30+ in all six of those games.  In their 11 other games this year, Pittsburgh reached 30 only once, back in Week 2 against the 49ers.

Even with a relatively healthy Big Ben, the Steelers looked awful on offense in Week 16 against the Ravens.  They followed that up with another shoddy offensive showing at Cleveland in Week 17, converting only two third downs , committing three turnovers and gaining a woeful 1.6 yards per carry on their 19 rush attempts.  

Last week’s win at Cincinnati was weather-affected, but once again, Pittsburgh couldn’t convert on third downs, just 2-13, and netted only one TD in four red zone tries.  This is not an offense clicking on all cylinders even if they were healthy. They’re not healthy, as banged up as they’ve been at any point this season.  

The Steelers are still without their top two running backs, with Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams both ruled out.  They’re without the single most unstoppable pass catching weapon in the NFL, WR Antonio Brown, out with a concussion.  And two time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger is going to try to play with a separated shoulder and help his team upset the NFL odds

Big Ben has been unable to practice all week.  He couldn’t throw the ball downfield at all after hurting his shoulder against the Bengals.  I’m sure he’ll get shot up with pain meds and give it a go, but I’m not expecting Big Ben to be effective against the #1 defense in the NFL.  Behind Roethlisberger is third stringer Landry Jones.  Jones came off the bench to help them beat Arizona back in mid-October.  Since that game, he’s thrown one touchdown and five interceptions. Again, if he sees the field here, he’ll be going against the single best defense in the league. 

The Steelers hung 34 on Denver when these two teams met in Week 15; a tale of two halves.  Denver raced out to a 27-10 lead, but the Steelers grabbed momentum after halftime, scoring three unanswered TD’s to win by seven.  Wade Phillips’ defense was embarrassed by that showing, a truly elite Super Bowl caliber stop unit that has saved Broncos backers from ruin on numerous occasions this year.  Returning home to face a banged up ‘shell of the squad they were’ Pittsburgh offense is a prime recipe for defensive redemption in the ‘No Fly Zone’ in the Mile High air.

Denver rested Peyton Manning over the back half of the season to save him for one last postseason run, which starts here.  In other words, he’s been getting prepped for this game for the better part of the last two months. Manning is going to get the headlines, but the real story here is the Broncos running game.  Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson combined for more than 200 rushing yards in their last game, on the heels of their six yards per rush average against Cinci in their previous contest.  If we see anything close to that level of run game production here, this game has legit blowout potential. Take Denver -7.5 with your NFL picks.

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