The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos are set to square off in Wild Card betting action this week at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. But before you make your NFL picks for the big game on Saturday, check out some of the great NFL betting trends that we have for the duel!
Pittsburgh Steelers Notes: The Steelers had the third best record in the AFC this year, but because they couldn’t find a way to beat the Baltimore Ravens in either meeting on the campaign, they have been stuck coming on the road for the playoffs. This is a team that just knows how to win games in the playoffs, as it already has a pair of Super Bowls under QB Ben Roethlisberger, including one in which Pittsburgh was the No. 6 seed in the AFC, and it was in the Super Bowl last year in the loss to the Green Bay Packers. The team is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 playoff games and last week’s failed cover against the Cleveland Browns was the first time in 11 tries that the Steelers didn’t cover a game played in January. It is notable that Pittsburgh is only 2-7 ATS in its last nine road games overall. Get used to some high scoring games as well, as the Steelers are 17-4 for ‘over’ bettors over the course of their last 21 postseason duels.
The ground game is a real concern for the Steelers in this one. It wasn’t a great year for the rushing attack, as Pittsburgh ranked just No. 14 in the league with 118.9 yards per game. RB Rashard Mendenhall, whom many thought might have had a big, big year, only had 928 yards and nine TDs. Mendenhall suffered a torn ACL last week, and that is going to leave RB Isaac Redman to carry the load. The rest of the Pittsburgh backs just haven’t had all that much success this year either behind a questionable offensive line, a line which also had Roethlisberger on his back a ton this season.
To say that the Steelers have some injury problem is a bit of an understatement. P Daniel Sepulveda is on IR, as are DT Chris Hoke, Mendenhall, and RB Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer and RB Mewelde Moore would be the running backs with Redman on Sunday, but Moore has a knee injury as well, and he is doubtful for the game. That leaves just Redman and rookie RB John Clay on the depth chart as the backs for this game, and Clay only just made his first appearance in an NFL game two weeks ago. DB Cortez Allen is probably out with a shoulder injury, and that becomes relevant because of the sickle cell related injury to DB Ryan Clark, which is going to probably keep him out for the rest of the season. The good news is that both OLs Doug Legursky and Maurkice Pouncey should be available for this one, and Big Ben should be available as well, though we aren’t so sure whether he is a heck of a lot more hurt with his ankle than he is letting on to.
Denver Broncos Notes: The enigmas of the NFL just won’t go away. The Broncos have been ugly all season long. When they were 1-4 under QB Kyle Orton, they were ugly. When they won all those games in a row with some magic at the end by QB Tim Tebow, they were ugly. When they lost their final three games of the regular season, they were the ugliest that they have been all season long. And yet, the Broncos are still here as the winners of the AFC West. They’re a .500 team, but they are still a team that has a formula that has proven to work at times, even against some of the best teams in the league. Denver is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as an underdog, but it is just 15-35-2 AT in its last 52 games here at Mile High. The Broncos are 1-4 ATS in their last five playoff games, and they have failed to cover four games overall.
All eyes have been on Tebow this year, but we are sure that it hasn’t been justified. After all, Tebow only completed 46.5 percent of his passes, easily the lowest mark in the league, and though he did throw 12 TDs against just six picks and rushed for 660 yards and six TDs, it just doesn’t justify him as a starting quarterback of a playoff team. That being said, the man that does deserve a lot of credit is RB Willis McGahee. McGahee’s career looked to be over with when he was basically let go by the Baltimore Ravens last year, and he came to Denver as a backup for RB Knowshon Moreno. Moreno stunk, and then tore his ACL, and McGahee apparently found the Fountain of Youth. In spite of the fact that he had to run up against eight and nine man fronts all season long, McGahee still rushed for 1,199 yards in just 14 games this year. He only had a total of five TDs, but he did a lot of the grunt work that kept this offense going when Tebow couldn’t get the ball up the field.
Fortunately for the Broncos, there aren’t many injuries to deal with. G Russ Hochstein left the game last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs with an injury that was never disclosed, so he is questionable for this one, and RB Spencer Larsen is probably going to miss this one with a knee injury. DB Brian Dawkins has a neck injury that will keep him out Sunday and could end his career.
Head To Head: Pittsburgh was one of the many playoff teams this year that never got the Tim Tebow Experience, which could make this one interesting. It sure makes history irrelevant, as this Denver team looks a heck of a lot different now than it did in years past. The Steelers won the last meeting of these teams in this stadium in 2009, a 28-10 triumph, but Denver has the previous two victories. The one constant seems to be higher scoring games. Three of the last four and six of the last eight have gone past the ‘total’, and all but one game since 1991 between these teams has featured at least 38 points, which is more than a field goal higher than the posted ‘total’ in this game of 34.5.
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.