Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players to Watch in Playoff Matchup With Denver

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players to Watch in Playoff Matchup With Denver

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers limped toward the finish of the regular season, and now go to Denver as the fifth seed to take on Tim Tebow.

    Considering how bad the Denver offense can look at times, this game should not be close. But tell that to the seven teams the Broncos have beaten since Tebow became the starting quarterback.

    I expect Pittsburgh to win this game. However, you should never just write off a team in the NFL.

    Here are five players from the Steelers to watch in this game.

Isaac Redman

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    The Steelers lost Rashard Mendenhall to a torn ACL last week against the Browns, and will now have to rely heavily on Isaac Redman.

    Redman rushed for 92 yards against the Browns in place of Mendenhall, and the Steelers need him to be effective against the 22nd-ranked Broncos rush defense.

    The Steelers will also be without Mewelde Moore, so the team will need quality play from rookie John Clay, and the recently promoted Chad Spann as well.

Ryan Mundy

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    Starting safety Ryan Clark is not going to be able to play in Denver because of a sickle cell trait, which forced him to lose his spleen and gall bladder after a game in 2007.

    This means that Ryan Mundy will start in his place, and will need to make sure that Tim Tebow continues to struggle in the passing game.

    Just because Tebow has been terrible throwing the ball at times, the Steelers cannot allow themselves to relax and allow a receiver to be open for a big touchdown.

Ben Roethlisberger

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    Even though Ben said that he suffered a “setback” against the Browns last week, I am still not too worried about him.

    Ben could throw three picks in a game, and I still would not want anyone else to lead the team on a final fourth-quarter drive to win the game.

    Now, that doesn’t mean I think Ben is going to throw three picks against the Broncos; however, it will be interesting to see how long it takes him to get into a rhythm.

Antonio Brown

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    We all know about Mike Wallace’s blazing speed, and how he can go deep pretty much at any time during a game.

    The receiver I want to watch though is Antonio Brown, because he is who Ben is looking for to move the chains on third down.

    Brown finished only 85 yards behind Wallace this season, and he will be a big part of the Steelers' field position as well thanks to his return-man role on special teams.

The Offensive Line

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    I think it is an understatement to say that the offensive line needs to be great not only in this game, but going forward into the playoffs as well.

    They need to allow Ben to feel comfortable in the pocket, and more importantly, they need to open up holes in the running game.

    Even though the Broncos have been offensively-challenged and Pittsburgh may not need 30 or 40 points to win the game, it would be nice to see the offensive line impose its will.