Playoff Game Prediction(s): Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Kevin HansonAnalyst IIIMarch 29, 2017

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos scrambles and tries to elude linebacker Derrick Johnson #56 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

What a season it has been for the Denver Broncos!

In their fifth game, which turned out to be their fourth loss, they benched starter Kyle Orton for Tim Tebow, arguably the most polarizing player in the NFL.

While the final stat lines haven't been pretty, Tebow went on to lead the Broncos to win seven of eight games and most of them were come-from-behind fourth-quarter (or overtime) victories. His proponents would argue that quarterbacks are measured by wins more than anything else and he's winning.

Well, he was winning.

The Broncos limped into the postseason as losers of their past three games and host the Steelers, who are literally limping into the postseason. The Steelers have lost running back Rashard Mendenhall to a torn ACL and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger admitted to suffering a setback in last week's game against the Browns.

While safety Ryan Clark is not injured, he won't play due to a blood disorder that could jeopardize his well-being if he were to play. I have respect for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin making the call and considering Clark's health over winning.

For the entire playoffs, all of the contributors including myself will make a prediction (including the final score) for each playoff game.

Here are the predictions from the crew for the the Steelers-Broncos game:

John: Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Denver Broncos 3

Tim Tebow has been a polarizing figure all year long. You either love him or hate him. Whichever way you feel about him, he simply hasn't played well enough to give the Broncos a chance to win. Even during their winning streak, most of his game performances were putrid, aside from one drive at the end. Still, so long as they were winning, it didn't really matter how. Now that they are on a three-game losing streak, the magic seems to have ended, and the Broncos have been exposed as the mediocre team that they are. Although their defense can keep them in a lot of games, the atrocious output of the offense simply isn't going to keep them in contention with a team like Pittsburgh (anyone that suffered through the Kansas City game this past weekend knows exactly how atrocious they've been). The Steelers have some injuries that could affect their chances of getting to Indianapolis this year, but I'm confident Charlie Batch and the B squad could handle the Broncos this weekend.

Sean: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Denver Broncos 6

Tebow time in prime time, and thankfully the Tebow era will come to an end. Tebow and the Broncos are going to have a real hard time moving the ball against this Steelers defense, and this isn't even one of the better defensive Steelers teams. The only chance Denver has on this one is for them to come up with huge plays on defense and special teams. I just don't see this happening this week. Tebow was a great story this season, but Tebowmania is officially over after this game. I think Tebow is going to make 3-4 mistakes, give the Steelers a short field and the Steelers will capitalize on those opportunities. Pittsburgh even without Mendenhall will roll.

Dan: Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Denver Broncos 10

Perhaps they are not yet ready for prime time, but here it comes in the afternoon it's Tebow time on the number one stage. Poor Pittsburgh, they compiled a 12-4 record, and they are rewarded by having to play in Mile High against a .500 ball club. The Broncos led the league in rushing this year averaging 164.5 yards a game and 4.5 yards per carry. The Steelers will counter with the 8th-ranked rushing defense in the league giving up 99 yards per game and four yards a clip. If the news wasn't bad enough that the Broncos face a stout rush defense, they will also contend with the league's best pass defense that only surrenders 172 yards per game. The Steelers do have some question marks on offense, and Ben Roethlisberger looks almost immobile, and some of his throws have been Tebow-esque as he can't step into them. The Steelers will also be missing their starting running back, which doesn't bode well as Denver is weak against the run giving up 126 yards per game. I foresee this one as another Pittsburgh struggle to score points game as they have only scored 13, 27, 3 and 14 vs. the Browns twice, Rams and 49ers. As much as I would love the upset for my Patriots and Tebow's first playoff game to explode talk radio .... Steelers 17, Broncos 10.

Steve: Denver Broncos 12, Pittsburgh Steelers 3

If you are taking the over on the Saints-Lions, you’ll take the under on the Steelers-Broncos. I could see the Broncos out “steelering” the Steelers. Lots of running and hard, aggressive defense. The Steelers have been able to hide their offensive line play this year that ranged from inconsistent to poor and is compounded by Maurkice Pouncey recovering from an ankle sprain. An injured offensive line, and a banged up Big Ben against an inspired Denver D? If you look at the Steelers losses this year (Ravens, 49ers, and Texans), they have a hard time against stout defenses and strong running teams and I can’t see the Steelers moving the ball. And besides what would the legend of Tebow be without a win in his first home playoff game? I’ll take the Broncos to win, 12-3.

Kevin: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Broncos 6

Since the Raiders lost as well, the Broncos made the postseason with a loss, their third in a row, due to tie-breakers. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey summed it up well: "... if we keep putting that product out there on the field like we did [Sunday], it's not going to be pretty." Tebow had his worst game of the season: 6-for-22 for 60 yards and an interception. In his past three games, Tebow has completed only 41 percent of his passes for 439 yards with a 1:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio during that span. Against the league's top-ranked pass defense (171.9 yards allowed per game), it's hard to imagine it getting any better. Like Champ said, it's not going to be pretty.

More Predictions: Texans vs. Bengals | Saints vs. Lions | Giants vs. Falcons

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