I hate Sunday night games…Its just not the wait…The Steelers always seem to play flat on Sunday night. I expect the Broncos best game…In other words the Broncos won’t hold anything back… I expect the Broncos best shot…Trick plays and risky decisions included.
Javon Walker killed the Steelers last season…Walker is hobbled by a bum knee... he is questionable to play…Ike has something to prove, I believe Ike would have shut down Walker healthy or not…Champ Bailey is still a great corner…I expect Bailey to play Sunday with the quad injury…Ward takes the game to Bailey…Ward is far more physical then Bailey…Ward should have success on ball control routes. The Broncos struggle to stop the run for a simple reason (Worst in the NFL)…The Broncos Defensive line is tiny and the Broncos linebackers struggle to tackle. The Broncos Qb rating against is a 96… 5th worst in the NFL (NFL Avg. is an 82)…From the start of the season I questioned the Broncos ability to stop teams. The Broncos have some talent at the skill positions on offense. Jay Cutler has a big time arm…He will also make poor decisions with the ball…Cutler when healthy is fairly mobile and can beat defenses with his feet. Travis Henry (9 Damn kids with 9 different women in 9 different states…That can’t be true?) is a very tough running back…He runs hard and low with very underrated cutting ability and vision…Henry has fumbled a ton in his career…I expect Henry to play this week unless his baseless injunction is lifted. Walker is a Steeler killer… The Other Wr is Brandon Marshall who was my man coming out UCF…He is a big strong tough vertical Wr with the mentality of a SS (Marshall moved to SS his Jr year to help his team). The Broncos offensive line has struggled most of the season. Losing Tom Nalen was a huge blow.
Did you know?
Broncos with the Ball
- Over the past 10 years following the bye week the Steelers are 5-5
- The Steelers are 2-6-1 on the Road against the Broncos in the regular season (4-6-1 overall on the road against the Broncos)
- The Steelers record on Sunday night Football is 10-12
The Broncos offense under Shanahan hasn’t changed much over the years. The Broncos zone block the running game and attack defenses vertically in the passing game (Shanahan’s system unlike most west coast systems attack teams downfield). My biggest concern in the running game is the dirty cut blocking principles the Broncos offensive line utilizes…The Steelers front 7 must control there gaps and there tempers. The Steelers must force the Broncos passing game to beat them…I don’t believe Cutler has the skill to beat the Steelers without a running game.
Skill position matchups
- Matt Lepsis and Brett Kiesel in the Running game. This is a key matchup for both teams; The Broncos want to run left… Lepsis was a quality left tackle who has struggled to this point of the season. Lepsis blew out his knee last season…He has yet to regain his movement skills. From a physical aspect, both players are carbon copies of each other…I expect a lot of stalemates in the running game…Kiesel wont get moved… but at the same time I don’t expect a ton of penetration and plays in the back field from Kiesel against the run.
- Lepsis and Harrison in Pass Pro. I expect Harrison to give Lepsis fits in Pass Pro. Harrison is most likely stronger then Lepsis…Harrison drops his butt, rolls his hips underneath the left tackles pad level and finishes every rush. Lepsis doesn’t have the mobility he once had to secure the edge…I believe Harrison has the ability to beat Lepsis up his chest or to the edge.
- Chris Kuper in the Run game. Kuper is your typical zone blocking offensive linemen; undersized, ultra dirty with a non stop motor. He will spend most of his day helping center Chris Meyers with Hampton or Hoke (I am going to guess Hoke).The key to the success of zone blocking teams is eliminating penetration…The Steelers front seven must cause chaos in the Broncos back field.
- Kuper and Kiesel in Pass Pro. Kiesel should dominate this matchup. Kuper has short arms and poor balance in pass pro…He has allowed countless pressures this season. Kiesel is due for a multi sack game…This could be the game it happens. Kuper is a quality run blocker…He needs a lot of work in pass pro. Kiesel needs to finish every rush instead of standing around playing patty cake.
- Chris Meyers and Hoke. I believe Hoke starts for a few reasons. Hoke played very well against the Seahawks is the first reason…The second reason is just as simple…Road game at night against a zone blocking team….I believe the Steelers think they can shut down the Broncos running game and get Hampton healthy with Hoke as the starter this week. Hoke is not nearly as powerful strong or sudden as Hampton…All he does is get the job done by any means necessary. If Hampton does start and is close to 100% he will dominate any center in the NFL…Hoke won’t dominate he will just make plays…Or allow players around him to make plays. Tom Nalen was a huge loss for the Broncos.
- Montrae Holland in the run game. Holland is a beast in the run game. He is far and away the most impressive player on the Broncos Oline in the run game. I have some concerns if Hoke gets the start…Holland maybe able to root out Hoke in the run game with down blocks which allows Meyers to flow to the second level to pick off the play side inside linebacker. Hoke must force that double team!!!!
- Holland and Aaron Smith in Pass Pro. Both players are studs… tough guys…Neither will back down. I expect Rock Um Sock Um robots in this matchup…Smith is the longer more athletic man. Holland is a shade over 6-1 foot with very short arms…Holland tends to compensate for his lack of arm length by being “over” aggressive and extending to reach the pass rusher…As Tim Hardaway once said “You reach…I Teach”. When you see an offensive linemen reaching he loses 2 very important things…Power and Balance (you hear that Faneca)
- Erick Pears and Aaron Smith in the run game. Pears looks like a big tall dork…like the second coming of Kris Farris…He doesn’t play that way. Pears is a far better pass blocker then run blocker. I expect Aaron Smith to handle Pears in the run game…But Pears is no bum as a run blocker…As a rookie starter at LT, Pears kicked Kiesel’s ass up and down the football field last year…Smith plays every game like its his last…So I have confidence in Smith in this matchup.
- Pears and Haggans in Pass Pro. Pears stoned Porter last year (I don’t mean bong tokes)...Pears is a big man who understands how to use his height…Pears has light quick feet with a very good pass set. I believe the Steelers will struggle to pressure Cutler from the left edge of the defensive front. Haggans is a smart rusher…He maybe able to set up a rush and beat Pears to the edge…I just don’t see it happening.
If Walker plays I expect Ike to shut him down. Ike is back to his 2005 form…Confident and he still can’t catch. Brandon Marshall is a tough matchup for any NFL corner. Marshall is 6-4, 230 pounds and plays the game like Michael Irvin… he attacks every ball with reckless abandon…. Thankfully Marshall will drop some balls and run some awful routes…Marshall is one of two players on the Broncos offense that scares me…The Other is Daniel Graham…Not for the reason most of you expect…Graham is a lights out blocker…The best blocking TE in the NFL...He was signed to deal with the Shawn Merriman type of players. If Graham beats up the Steelers outside linebackers in the run game…Kiesel and Smith better dominate…All it takes is one crease and Henry can take it 60 yards. The Broncos have a stable of backs they can throw at you. Selvin Young has showed glimpses of great potential. The Broncos run a lot of west coast passing offense... They will move Cutler in the pocket…They will involve backs in the passing game…The Broncos will run some clever screens…The Broncos season is on life support…A loss to the Steelers means you can pull the plug.
Steelers with the Ball
The Steelers game plan is easy…Run against 7 man fronts…Pass against 8 man fronts. The Steelers want to pass the ball to get the lead then choke the life out of your defense with the run game. The offensive line better be prepared to pass block. The Steelers should be completely healthy on offense…Ward, Holmes, Miller,Parker…Pick your poison.
Skill position Matchups
- Marvel Smith and Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil can speed rush…His first step is off the charts…Dumervil is 5-11, 255 playing out of a three point stance. The Steelers should beat the life out of Dumervil in the run game…I see no way on this green earth that the Broncos can stop the Steelers power run game to the left. I believe the Steelers roll the pocket to the right early in the game to allow Smith to “soften up” Dumervil…It may take awhile…But Smith will take his heart. The Broncos sub in Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder …Neither have a true desire to play the run…Both will get up field and attack the Qb.
- Alan Faneca and Amon Gordon…Wow…I think Faneca maybe in some trouble. Gordon is the type of player that gives him fits…Gordon is an explosive 6-2, 305 powerhouse. Faneca usually eats up big fat plodders and struggles with more athletic interior players. If Faneca plays with his head over his pads this week…He will be embarrassed on national TV. Hopefully the week off allowed any lingering injuries to heal…Faneca needs to be at the top of his game this week.
- Sean Mahan…He will help both guards play side with a quick combo block…He will then move to the second level to seek and destroy a linebacker. Mahan is solid as a pass protector.
- Kendoll Simmons and Sam Adams… This should be an easy matchup for Simmons in the run game. Adams is 4 years over the hill…He is basically stealing a check at this point. My concern comes from the Broncos nickel and dime packages…The Broncos will roll in Alvin McKinley and Marcus Thomas…Both are quality interior rushers…Both could school Faneca or Simmons.
- Willie Colon and John Engleberger…Colon has been a major disappointment to me in Pass pro…Colon struggles to get movement in the run game. I am not satisfied with Colon’s performance to date. Engleberger is a lot like Patrick Kearney who Colon faced last week…I expect Colon to have a decent game…I actually hope Colon has a decent game. Colon needs to move his feet…When your feet stop… the block stops
As I said I expect Champ Bailey to play. Bailey actually matches up a lot better with Santonio Holmes and Dre Bly with Hines Ward…I don’t believe those will be matchups so….Dre Bly is tough SOB…He could never run…Holmes should be able to run any route against him…Bly has some sticky fingers and is a threat to intercept any under thrown ball…Ben must be accurate…Bailey just doesn’t have the stones to play with Ward…Ward will out will Bailey to the ball. The Broncos nickel and dime backs are mediocre at best. John Lynch is 117 years old…He still plays the run like a linebacker…Unfortunately for the Broncos he runs like a slow linebacker at this point of his career…Nick Ferguson lost 2 steps after his latest knee injury…The Steelers should be able to exploit the Broncos 8 man fronts down the seam with Miller, Spaeth, Davenport or even Davis. Ben needs to protect the ball…Willie needs to attack the hole and the offensive line must show up…The Broncos linebackers can really run…They should be able to…Strong side linebacker Nate Webster is 230 pounds (smaller then SS Adrian Wilson) Weak side linebacker Ian Gold is 223 pounds (smaller then Broncos Wr Brandon Marshall) Dj Williams the starter at the Mike for the Broncos comes off the bus missing tackles. If the Steelers don’t give the game away on offense…I see no way the Broncos can stop them.
I will call the kicking game even…I believe the Steelers have the advantage in the return and coverage units.