Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (6-1 SU, 6-1
ATS), 8:30 p.m. EST, Monday, November 9, 2009, Invesco Field at Mile
High, Denver, Colo., TV: ESPN

by Badger of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Steelers -3/Broncos +3
Over/Under: 39.5

Bet this game at an online sportsbookie that offers 15 team parlays, 20 team teasers, pleasers, point buys up to 15 on any single side or total and the most props of any sports book online: 5dimes.

The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers will try and
keep their four-game winning streak going when they travel to the
Mile High city of Denver to take on the surprising 6-1 Broncos in an
AFC showdown on this weeks edition of Monday Night Football on ESPN.

The Steelers have won four in a row to move to 5-2 on the season and
are coming off of a bye week, but prior to the bye the Steelers
played perhaps their best game of the season in handing the Minnesota
Vikings and Brett Favre their lone loss of the season, 27-17.
Pittsburgh was on the verge of losing to the Vikings late in the
fourth quarter when their stellar defense turned up the heat,
returning a fumble and an interception for touchdowns to turn a tight
game into a solid 10-point victory.

Denver has been the biggest surprise of the year under new head coach
Josh McDaniels, jumping out to a 6-0 start before suffering their
first loss of the season last Sunday on the road in Baltimore, 30-7.
The Broncos new-look defense under coordinator Mike Nolan folded like
a tent in the second half last week, giving up 24 points in the final
two quarters while the Broncos offense sat in neutral with only 200
yards of total offense the entire game.

The Broncos will try and rebound and get back in the win column
Monday night, but theyll have to do it as underdogs in their own
stadium as oddsmakers have installed the Steelers as 3-point
favorites on the road. There are a few offshore sportsbooks that have
lowered the point spread down to Pittsburgh -2.5 (5Dimes), but the
widest range of available odds are currently found in Las Vegas where
you can find the Steelers favored by as little as 2-points (at Planet
Hollywood) all the way up to 4.5-point favorites (at the Mirage).

The over/under total opened at 38.5 and has climbed up a full point
to 39.5 at most of the offshore sportsbooks on the Web. There is even
a 40 on the board, but for the most part youre going to
find the total at 39 or 39.5 at a majority of the books.

Offensively the Steelers this season have morphed into a pass-first
scheme utilizing the talents of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
instead of the grind-it-out running team most fans grew up watching
in Pittsburgh. Player turnover along the offensive line, as well as
injuries and ineffectiveness at running back has made coach Mike
Tomlin open up the playbook for Big Ben and hes responded by
throwing for 276.1 yards per game (5th in NFL). Its also helped to
put more points on the scoreboard for the Steelers as they are
currently ranked 14th in the league at 23.9 points per game.

On the other sideline the Broncos offense does an excellent job of
getting the most out of the talent they have, namely quarterback Kyle
, who is smart and a proven winner but is limited in his ability
to put pressure on defenses in the passing game. The Broncos are 16th
in passing (221.4 ypg) and 11th in rushing (123.1 ypg), but their
lack of big-play talent (with the exception of receiver Brandon
Marshall) drops them down all the way to 20th in scoring at just 20
points per game.

But fans wont be tuning into the ESPN telecast on Monday to watch
these two offense work, theyll be tuning in to watch two of the best
defenses clash head-to-head between the lines.

Its actually the Denver Broncos under Nolan, not the renowned
Steelers defense, that comes into the game as the top-ranked unit in
the NFL. The Broncos defense is top-10 across the board allowing only
266.7 yards per game (180.6 ypg passing 8th; 86.1 ypg rushing
3rd) and just 13.7 points per game to rank 2nd in the league in
scoring defense. It would be one thing if those numbers were compiled
against the likes of Kansas City and Oakland, but the Broncos have
shut down the Patriots (17 points allowed), the Chargers (23) and
Dallas (10), three of the better offenses in the league.

But the model every defensive coordinator in the league aspires to
become is still the Steelers defense under Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau.
The Steelers secondary has given up some large chunks of yardage in a
few games this season (214.6 ypg 16th), but most of that came while
Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu was injured. Otherwise, the Steelers
are still a defense that stops the run (76.4 ypg 1st) and then pins
their ears back and brings the pressure once theyve made you one-

The last time these two teams met back in 2007 it was the Broncos winning in a tight game at Mile High Stadium, 31-28. In fact, the
Broncos have sort of owned the Steelers of late, winning two in a row
and four of the last five dating back to the 1998 season. The lone
Steelers victory in that span came in Denver and it was a big one, a
34-17 victory back in the AFC Championship game in 2006, one week
before their Super Bowl 40.

All told the Broncos are 7-3 SU in the last 10 meetings, but the
teams split an even 5-5 ATS record over the same 10 game span. Denver
has covered in two straight, but the Steelers hold a slim 4-3 ATS
edge in the games played at Mile High, er, Invesco Field.

The over has been a solid play in the head-to-head series, going 5-1
in the last six meetings, which could explain why the total has gone
up during the week.


Other betting trends are hard to follow though, as the underdog is
4-0 ATS in the last four head-to-head games (good from Broncos fans),
but the Broncos are a meager 7-17-1 ATS in their last 25 home games

Meanwhile, the road team is actually 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-
head meetings (good for Steelers fans), but the Steelers are an
abysmal 0-5 ATS in their last five road games. Go figure.

Badgers Pick: Even though all but one of the nine Monday Night
games have gone over the total (there were two MNF games the opening
week) so far this season, Im bucking the trend (and the public) and
predicting a low-scoring defensive battle this week. Orton and Denver
will struggle, while the Broncos D will keep them in the game. Take
the under of 39.5.