Saturday, September 8, 2012

SUNDAY NIGHT MATCHUP - 8:30PM

PITTSBURGH @ DENVER
What should be a revenge game for Pittsburgh after Denver unceremoniously disposed of them from the 2011 playoffs doesn't have the feel of such.  After all, Tim Tebow has been replaced by Peyton Manning, and the similarity between the new Denver offense and the one Tebow is non-existant.  The Steelers will again be without safety Ryan Clark due to his sickle cell trait, and you saw how important for Troy Polamalu in the playoff game in January. Steelers LB James Harrison is also questionable for the game, recovering from knee surgery.  There's no doubt these two impact players for the defense will increase the value Manning has as the Steelers vaunted pass rush relies on both Harrison and Lamar Woodley.


Ryan Clark will have to watch this contest again.
Willis McGahee has traditionally struggled against Pittsburgh, so I wouldn't start him over better options.  You start Manning, even against Pittsburgh's strong pass defense, and hope that Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are ready to handle his check-down system.  Keep in mind, they don't have to be perfect route-runners; Manning can find them anyway.  There's no reason not to start Jacob Tamme, but the more I think about it, the more I think Joel Dreesen has a chance to be the real TE leader in Denver.  Steelers running back Isaac Redman tallied over 100 yards against Denver last January and the Steelers line looks much the same, so expect he and Jonathan Dwyer to get the yeoman's carries and ignore the Rashard Mendenhall status.  There's no way the Steelers are putting him out there as anything more than an inspiration.  Antonio Brown will get the most targets as he's become Ben Roethlisberger's  go-to receiver, and in that sense is likely to replace Hines Ward's presence.  Mike Wallace will be good for a shot down the field, and the difference here will be that Roethlisberger has his mobility.  In January, Roethlisberger's high ankle sprain suffered against Cleveland virtually destroyed his ability to do what he does best, make plays out of the pocket.  Von Miller and company will find Ben a harder target to bring down now that he can move, and he'll make the Broncos pay on an ill-timed blitz.

STEELERS 27, BRONCOS 23