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MNF Powerhouse Clash

November 5, 2009

Once again, heading into their game, the Denver Broncos are underdogs. All year the doubters have been predicting the Broncos to lose, and last week they finally got what they wanted. The Broncos lost many bandwagon jumpers and they head into week nine humbled, while the Steelers are coming to town on fire.

The Steelers defense is its usual self, and the offense has things rolling. Ben Roethlisberger has things going well with an impeccable vertical attack. Roethlisberger is third in the NFL in passing which means that the Denver Broncos secondary could struggle, and Elvis Dumervil will have to get pressure on Roethlisberger to win. But he hasn’t had trouble with that in the past.

In two games against Pittburgh, Dumervil has 3 sacks, including when he sacked Ben in 2007, resulting in a forced fumble which was returned by Tim Crowder for a Touchdown. 

In that game the Broncos forced 3 turnovers, and won the game on a last second field goal 31-28. The Steelers O-line has allowed Ben to be sacked 20 times this season. I expect the line to double-team Elvis often like the Ravens did with success (with the help of some holding) last week. But if and when the Steelers front five take to guys two double team Elvis it will open things up for Andra Davis, D.J. Williams, and Vonnie Holliday.

The 3 have 6 sacks, and the Broncos backers are some of the best at shooting in the hole and getting to the QB. Taking him down is a different story. Big Ben is one of the best at getting away from pressure, the Broncos learned their lesson last week on wrapping up a quarterback, when Flacco scrambled, and threw with ease.

Picture 2If the Broncos and Steelers defenses were to stand next to each other in front of a mirror, they might not be able to tell each other apart. The Steelers are 1st against the run, while the Broncos are 3rd. Pittsburg has 21 sacks, Denver has 23. The Steelers have 5 picks, and the Broncos have 6. Both defenses have similarities. Brian Dawkins and Troy Polamalu, Elvis Dumervil and James Harrison, D.J. Williams, and James Farrior all have effects on the game in their respective positions. If the Broncos are going to beat the Steelers they will have to force Ben to make mistakes and turn the ball over.

Offensively things are much different in Pittsburgh and Denver. The Steelers are 5th in the NFL with the pass, Kyle and the Broncos come in at 16th. The Broncos have gotten away from run-first-pass-second that they used to be famous for, and even more hurting to the offense, they have almost left the zone blocking scheme completely. The Broncos will have to establish a good run game, against a very good Steelers run ‘D’.

If Knowshon and Buckhalter can’t get things done on the ground, and Orton continues his dink-and-dunk, the Broncos offense could be demoralized.  The offensive line for Denver will be glad to know that the Steelers are missing two key D-linemen. But the Broncos will also be without right tackle Ryan Harris. The trenches is where I think the game will be decided. Whoever can get more pressure, and whoever can protect the QB better will have the advantage.

Tyler Polumbus will be a big factor in his first start at right tackle, and last week I thought he did very well. He actually did better than most of the Broncos starting Offensive Line where Kyle Orton got quite the taste of the ground. If the Broncos can get things going early, and finish off strong on offense things will be much easier.

I think it all starts with the run game, if the running backs can pound out yards, Orton will have a much better night. The Broncos look to move on from last week, and the Steelers are fresh off a bye, “Yeah, they beat us up pretty good, no question about it,” said quarterback Kyle Orton speaking of last weeks loss. “We feel like we’ve got a physical football team and certainly Pittsburgh prides themselves on that, too. So, it’ll be a hard-hitting game and whoever can win that battle is going to have a good chance to win.”

Trenches

One place the Steelers are vulnerable is special teams, they have given up three touchdowns on special teams in the past four weeks. While the Broncos have also given up 2 returns for scores in the past 2 weeks. Eddie Royal will have to take advantage of the Steelers poor kick coverage, and our kick coverage will have to step up with the help of linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Spencer Larsen who missed the first 6 games.

The Broncos know what its like to be in a tough game against a good team. The Broncos have already faced, Cincinnati, Dallas, New England, San Diego, and Baltimore, all of whom have a combined record of 23-12. It’ll will be a Monday Night Shoot out, and if the game is anything like the last time they faced each other, it will be a thriller.

 

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