Duel Opinions™: Broncos vs. Steelers (2016 Divisional Game)

What do supporters of this week’s opponent think of the upcoming Divisional matchup between the #1 seed in the AFC, Denver Broncos, and #6 seed, Pittsburgh Steelers?

I caught up with Kaptain Kirk from the Denver Broncos fan site Broncoplanet.com, who was gracious to offer me 3 reasons why he feels the Broncos will cover the point spread against the Steelers this Sunday.

After each of Kaptain Kirk’s remarks, I offer one of my own: welcome to Duel Opinions!

Injury Factor

Kirk from Bronco Planet:

Ben Roethlisberger summed up the last meeting like this:

“We got lucky last time. We were at home…they had injuries…[It’s] different on [the] road.”

The Broncos were missing three starters (Manning, Ward and Stewart), three of their four top Safeties (Bolden) along with their punt returner. This time around, the Steelers are down three starters in Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams and if he’s not sandbagging, Big Ben. Roethlisberger is the toughest QB that I’ve seen, but he won’t be healthy enough for a healthy No. 1 defense in the confines of Sports Authority.

Joe from Steel City Underground:

The Denver Broncos have a tough defense, which is seemingly even tougher at home. However, we saw last week that home field advantage was more of a disadvantage, with all 4 home teams losing to the visitor.

The Steelers could be in line for another upset, but will have an uphill battle to contend with internally, as injuries continue to plague their season. Antonio Brown is in concussion protocol, and reports are conflicting as to whether he will be a go on Sunday. (Edit: as of Friday morning, the Pittsburgh Steelers have officially ruled Brown out for Sunday’s game.)

In his Tuesday press conference, Coach Mike Tomlin did not sound confident that DeAngelo Williams would play this week. In his absence, 3rd/4th string running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman performed admirably. Toussaint had over 100 all-purpose yards while Todman added another 65 yards on 11 carries.

But the real story this week is the quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger has a sprained AC joint and hasn’t thrown a pass since Saturday: his status is in doubt. Landry Jones, who began the season as the team’s 4th option, is taking the first team reps to prepare for the game.

Doubt also surrounds Denver’s quarterbacks. Peyton Manning was announced as the starter after relieving backup Brock Osweiler against San Diego, but it’s uncertain if we’ll see the “Hall of Fame” caliber Manning Sunday, or his alter ego who has been less imposing on defenses throughout this season. (Note: Osweiler also sat out Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury and could add further intrigue to this positional storyline.)



The Broncos are still hot about Cody Wallace’s late head shot on David Bruton in the previous game. Wallace was fined 40% of his game check, but wasn’t suspended for the defenseless hit. A victory for Denver would be revenge enough.

Brock Osweiler had a career 1st half with 4 TDs (3 pass,1 rush) in the last meeting between these two teams. Ben Roethlisberger matched Brock in the 2nd half, with 3 Touchdown passes, two by Antonio Brown, who torched Chris Harris Jr. 16 times for 189 yards. Antonio won’t be playing on Sunday, though Harris Jr. would welcome a rematch between two of the best in the league. That alone would be worth the price of admission.


Kaptain makes a good point about Wallace, who I feel got away with a cheap shot in the last encounter. Even with stellar defenders, the personnel groupings largely remain the same for Denver’s defense. Brown’s status is up in the air, and Denver will have to figure out how to cover all of the Steelers weapons.

We still don’t know how healthy Peyton is, or how long he had been playing injured, to say what his ability will be on game day. When the Broncos have the ball, I expect them to lean heavily on the run, as I can’t imagine Manning throwing 40 to 50 passes in this game. The Steelers defense, which made Osweiller look like a superstar in one half, and a dud in the other, will have to continue stopping the run, while adequately defending the pass for all 4 quarters.

Happy Ending


Unlike the last meeting in Week 15, this time it will be Peyton Manning starting, while Landry Jones should end up playing for the Steelers. This sets up another chapter towards a storybook ending to a stellar career for Manning. The tale nearly writes itself. The Steelers are one of three teams in the way of Peyton riding off into the sunset with a second Lombardi Trophy like his boss John Elway.


The mystique of Landry Jones is that we don’t know how he might perform. Thrust into 4th quarters relief appearances multiple times this season, Jones helped beat one of the league’s best teams (the Arizona Cardinals) as well as secure a victory in relief of Big Ben against the Raiders. We’ve also witnessed Jones in other 4th quarter relief appearances where he wasn’t as sharp (Seattle, Cincinnati.)

Like Manning, it’s anyone’s guess which player shows up. What we do know is, he has a surrounding cast capable of propping him up, provided the league’s best WR is cleared for Sunday.

As an overall fan of the NFL I can’t do anything but respect Peyton Manning. Every game from here on out could be his last. Will Manning have a Jerome Bettis like exit from the NFL? Or will Manning succumb to the Steelers, as he did when his Colts lost to Bettis’ Steelers in 2005, en route to Pittsburgh’s 5th Super Bowl win?

Special thanks to Kaptain Kirk from Broncoplanet.com
Kaptain Kirk on Twitter | Kaptain Kirk on Facebook

Duel Opinions is a trademark of Steel City Underground.

Suggested articles from our sponsors