Denver Broncos (10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5 SU, 8-4 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: 12/20/15 4:25 PM ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
by Keith, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DEN +6/PIT -6
Over/Under Total: 45
Very rarely do we get a chance to take back a 10-3 team with a better record and defense with a touchdown spotted. However, in the week 15 match-up between Pittsburgh and Denver, we are in position to just that. The situation in question is a perfect buy-low/sell-high opportunity for both Denver and Pittsburgh with respect to last weeks results and that is why we come in strong on the Broncos.
Despite losing Peyton Manning, the Broncos have found ways to deliver victories against impressive opponents. The most notable a defeat of New England to end the Patriots winning streak and upend their bid for perfection at Mile High Field. We saw the Broncos enter as a home pooch and nevertheless shock the NFL world with a Brock Osweiler to C.J. Anderson touchdown pass to gain the victory in overtime. We saw a similar scenario unfold earlier in the season when the Green Bay Packers came to town to visit the Broncos with a marginal Peyton Manning at the helm and the Broncos took care of business, smacking Green Bay 29 to 10 at home. The following week, Denver took the road as a lock against Indianapolis where we saw the Colts taking back 2:1 odds on the money line. The Broncos would lose, showcasing the volatility of playing on a team coming in on a big win.
Enter Pittsburgh, a team entering on a high after a huge win in Cincy last week. The Steelers dominated the Bengals, but it is worth mentioning that Cincinnati lost their starting quarterback Andy Dalton in the first half of the outing. An injury of that magnitude had detrimental effects on the Cincinnati ranks and needless to say gave a Pittsburgh quite a handicap from its onset. Even with all things considered, a healthy Cincinnati is prone to an upset in a rivalry game of this nature and Pittsburgh certainly entered on a mission after they blew out an Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts at home the week before.
Pittsburgh enters on a two game winning streak, handing out consecutive losses to division leaders and as a result of this, their stock is on the rise. Conversely, Denver lost to Oakland 15 to 12, in what many regard as a huge upset. However, the loss to Oakland is a bit misleading as the Broncos defense showed up to hold Oakland to just 15 points. This is the same Oakland team that has an up and coming star in Derek Carr and features a sensational wide receiver in Amare Cooper who is currently flirting with records for receiving yards and receptions by a rookie over the span of a season. With all this considered, the Raiders only managed to score 15 points against a very talented Broncos defense.
With these notions considered, the Broncos have a distinct edge against Pittsburgh in the defense department, most notably pass defense. The Broncos allow just 188.2 passing yards per game to Pittsburghs 279.0 passing yards per game and there is a prominent mismatch in overall defensive efficiency. Despite the absence of Manning, the Broncos have fared well for the most part with Osweiler under center. We have finally begun to see Demaryius Thomas showcase the brilliance that as allowed him all the accolades that accompanied him in the fantasy world in years past and the Broncos have also enjoyed the return of Emmanuel Sanders to add another weapon in to the potent Bronco arsenal. With the Steelers, sporting one of the most porous secondaries in all of the NFL, the prospects are bright for this dynamic duo. This poses Pittsburgh to play a game of catch-up with Denver and given Denvers defensive supremacy we dont like their chances, even if they are playing this one in the Steel City.
Playing on Pittsburgh is tempting, but as we have mentioned they have faced premium opposition without their best players for the last two weeks and this without question had an influence on the results of these fixtures. While the Broncos may be without Peyton Manning, they are anchored by the play of their defense and this in itself is worth playing on. If at nothing else we see Denver as a great buy low play, as we are taking back a 10-3 team with the #1 defense in the league with substantial points. Back Denver, true value play
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Denver +6
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