NFL Playoffs: Pittsburgh Steelers Will Not Have an Easy Time Beating the Broncos
Denver has lost three in a row and has only scored 17 points over the past two weeks. That is not a good trend for the 25th-ranked scoring offense which scores 19.3 points per game, especially when they have to go up against the league's top scoring defense, which allows only 14.2 points per game.
During there losing streak, Tim Tebow has been dismal, completing 30-of-73 pass attempts for 439 yards and has only one touchdown to four interceptions.
Tebow took throwing the ball to a new low this past weekend, completing a pathetic 27.3 percent of his passes, down from his season average of 46.5 percent, for a paltry 60 yards.
If anyone meets the definition of backing into the playoffs, it would be the 2011 Broncos.
On paper, the Steelers could not ask for more: a team on the downfall; no threat of a passing attack; a reeling defense.
But this is the Steelers we are talking about. They have to go on the road with a plethora of injuries and this game will not be as easy as many are making it out to be.
By how many points will the Steelers defeat the Broncos?
Though the Steelers have an edge in overall record, statistics and, most importantly, talent, Pittsburgh tends to find a way to play down to their competition, especially when playing on the road, where the Steelers lost three of their four games.
All too often, the Steelers offense looks in shambles away from Heinz Field and it starts with the passing game.
The Steelers passing game, led by Ben Roethlisberger, has completed 61.2 percent passes on the road (66.4 percent at home) and has only seven of the 21 total passing touchdowns. He has also thrown a whopping 10 of his 14 interceptions on the road and has a sub-par quarterback rating of 78.2 (104.4 at home).
Always of great concern are the sacks. Steelers quarterbacks have been sacked more times on the road than they have been at home. This is of particular concern given the presence of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller in the Denver defense.
Since Roethlisberger suffered the ankle injury in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns, he has only led the Steelers to 23 points.
Given his lack of mobility, the Steelers may decide to run the ball more, but Rashard Mendenhall is out for the season with a torn ACL per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette. That means the Steelers will have to lean on Isaac Redman and John Clay.
Mendenhall's injury will hurt a ground game that has already struggled away from home. The Steelers only gained 800 of their 1903 yards on the road and averaged only 3.9 yards per carry—a full yard below their home average. They also had five fumbles and lost four of them.
The lack of offensive production has been evident, as the Steelers have been outscored 127 to 125 when away.
Pittsburgh played its low-level competition tight on the road, defeating the Colts by three and the Chiefs and Browns by four.
Cleveland had nothing to play for last week and Pittsburgh was trying to get the win for one last-ditch effort at a home playoff game and bye week, yet the Steelers only won 13-9.
Keep in mind this was a Browns team with an awful passing game with Seneca Wallace at quarterback and virtually no ground game.
Though Tebow is no threat to attack the Steelers through the air, he still has the best rush offense to work with and he has that "it" factor that can carry a team if given a chance.
When it comes down to it, chances are the Steelers will not be worrying about Tebow, but rather their own offense.
Despite the offensive weapons that the Steelers have, they cannot seem to put points and the board. If the Broncos play a good defensive game, this will be a game that goes down to the final minutes.
Luckily for the Steelers, they have the top scoring defense in the league that, even shorthanded, should keep the Broncos offense in check.
Pittsburgh will not need much from their offense, but if they get the same production that they have been getting, this game will be much closer than it should be.
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