NFL Wildcard Round Pick – Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos
Point spread: Pittsburgh -9
Total line: 34.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers begin their quest for a return trip to the Super Bowl on the road against the AFC West champion Denver Broncos this upcoming Sunday afternoon at Mile High Stadium in the fourth and final playoff game of the weekend. This clash is slated to start at 4:30 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Pittsburgh came up short on its bid to win the AFC North this season by virtue of two losses to Baltimore, but it did tie the Ravens with a 12-4 record straight-up (7-9 against the spread) and win eight of its last 10 games SU along the way. The total stayed ‘under’ in 10 of its 16 games.
Health could be the biggest factor in this game for the Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger is still hampered by a high ankle sprain and their running game took a major hit with the loss of Rashard Mendenhall with a torn ACL. They will have to rely more heavily on a defense that was ranked first in the NFL in both total yards and points allowed.
Tim Tebow’s mid-season magic has all but disappeared over the last few weeks with Denver losing its last three games by the combined score of 88-40. The Broncos were still able to back into the playoffs as division champs with an overall record of 8-8 SU (7-9 ATS). The total went 9-7 in their 16 games this year.
Denver will need to get back to the basics of running the ball and playing sound defense to have any chance in this one. Over the past three games, the offense has basically ground to a halt with an ineffective and inaccurate Tebow at the helm, and the defense suffered major breakdowns against Buffalo and New England.
Pittsburgh is 2-7 ATS in its last nine road games, but 9-2 ATS in its last 11 playoff games. The total has gone ‘over’ in five of its last six playoff games on the road.
Denver is 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine games against a team with a winning record, but 5-1 ATS in its last playoff games at Mile High. The total has gone ‘over’ in 13 of its last 18 games played at home.
The road team in this series is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings and the total has gone ‘over’ in five of the last seven games. Home field will help, but right now Denver looks like it did earlier in the season when it was 2-5, while the Steelers are in playoff form. Look for Roethlisberger to do enough to lead Pittsburgh to a win that covers the nine points.
The Pick: Pittsburgh 31 Denver 17
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