Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) -3 , o/u 39 at Denver Broncos (2-3), 8:15 pm Eastern Sunday, NBC
by Zman of Predictem.com
Two teams headed in opposite directions going into their bye weeks last week meet when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Denver Broncos for a Sunday night AFC inter-divisional bout on NBC.
Pittsburgh had bounced back after its first loss of this season to shut out the Seattle Seahawks 21-0 two weeks ago, holding that Mike Holmgren offense to just 144 total yards. So the Steelers, at 4-1, lead the AFC North division by a half-game over the second-place Baltimore Ravens.
Denver, on the other hand, has lost its last three games, including a 41-3 home drubbing at the hands of the San Diego Chargers two weeks ago. So the Broncos sit in third place in the AFC West at 2-3, but only trail Kansas City and San Diego by a half game for the division lead.
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Pittsburgh is 4-1 against the spread this season, 1-1 both straight up and vs. the numbers on the road.
Denver, on the other hand, is a dismal 0-5 ATS this year, 1-2 SU and 0-3 vs. the numbers at home.
The Steelers rank #1 in the league in total defense and second in rushing offense, and have allowed just 47 points over their first five games.
The Broncos rank dead last vs. the run this season and have scored a total of 75 points over their first five games.
These two teams met in the Steel City last November, where Denver beat Pittsburgh 31-20. The Steelers out-gained the Broncos 499-336, but committed six turnovers.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger has been solid this season, completing 62% of his passes for a 9/3 TD/INT ratio and a 99.2 passing rating.
On the other side, Denver QB Jay Cutler has been erratic, completing 64% of his throws for a 4/6 TD/INT ratio and a 79.9 passing rating.
The Steelers are outscoring opponents this season 26-9, outgaining them 352-236 and outrushing them 167-73.
The Broncos are getting outscored by a 27-15 margin, outgaining foes 365-333 but getting outrushed 188-139.
On the injury front, Pittsburgh is expected to have back WR’s Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes and S Troy Polamalu, all of whom missed the Steelers last game two weeks ago. On the other side, WR Javon Walker is out for Denver, and CB Champ Bailey is listed as questionable with a bad quad.
These two teams have played one common opponent this season. The Broncos needed a desperation FG at the buzzer to win at Buffalo 15-14 in week 1, while Pittsburgh beat the Bills 26-3 at home in week 2.
The Steelers opened as 3 1/2-point road chalk for this game, with a total of 39, and those numbers have held steady in early betting action. Also, Pittsburgh is listed at around -220 on the moneyline, with Denver getting +180 as home dogs.
The o/u is 2-3 in Steelers games this season, which are averaging 35 points per, while the totals are 4-1 in Broncos games, which are averaging 42 points.
Zman’s Pick: I like Pittsburgh to come into Denver and handle them just like Jacksonville did a few week’s ago with a ton of their plays being rushing with a few passes sprinkled in to keep the defense honest. Until Denver proves that they can stop the run, we’re going to keep hammering against them.