Steelers Scouting Report: What to expect from the Denver Broncos

After what was a very promising week one victory for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Meadowlands on Monday Night, they have a tougher task ahead this weekend. They are headed home to Heinz Field where they will face off against a Denver Broncos team that is looking to bounce back after a tough loss to the Tennessee Titans.

While the Broncos are 0-1, they have some promising talent on their roster and should make for a much tougher opponent compared to the Giants. With that being said, let’s take a look at this week’s opponent, the Denver Broncos.

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Injury Report

The Broncos have several key injuries to take into consideration coming into this week. They will be without two key pieces of their defense as outside linebacker Von Miller is expected to miss the season with an ankle injury and newly acquired cornerback A.J. Bouye was placed on the Injured Reserve list with a shoulder injury.

Linebacker Justin Strnad was also placed on the Injured Reserve with a wrist injury. Former Steeler, inside linebacker Mark Barron, is listed as questionable and did not practice on Thursday due to a hamstring injury.

On the offensive side of the ball, wide receivers Courtland Sutton (AC Joint) and Tyrie Cleveland (Hip) are both listed as questionable and were limited in Thursday’s practice. Offensive tackle Garrett Bolles (Elbow) and running back Phillip Lindsay (Toe) are also listed as questionable. Lindsay did not participate in Thursday’s practice while Bolles was limited.

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Can Lock get anything going against Steelers secondary?

The 2020 season is going to be a big year for second-year starting quarterback Drew Lock. For now, it seems they believe he is the guy and they have surrounded him with weapons so it is now all up to him to prove himself.

In week one against the Titans, he played decent completing 66.67% of his passes for a touchdown and zero interceptions. However, it wasn’t enough to win so he will have to step it up a notch. If Courtland Sutton is able to play that will be huge for this passing attack but if he can’t go, Lock will be looking to first-round pick Jerry Jeudy as his top receiver.

In his rookie debut, Jeudy finished with four receptions for 56 yards. They will also look for a productive game from tight end Noah Fant who had five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Titans. The rest of the receiving core will consist of another promising rookie in K.J. Hamler along with DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick.

Lock has a tough task ahead of him this week as he faces a very talented Steelers secondary that was one of the best in the league last season. Their secondary gave up 279 yards and two touchdowns to Daniel Jones and the Giants on Monday Night but stepped up when it mattered, coming away with two interceptions.

Since it looks like Lock will likely have his hands full against this secondary, he will hope to have some help from the running game. With one half of their running back duo, Phillip Lindsay, dealing with an injury, this will be an opportunity for newly acquired Melvin Gordon III to be the true lead back with the bulk of the carries. He was their leading rusher against the Titans finishing with 15 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown.

If Lindsay can’t go, Royce Freeman will look to likely get some carries to give Gordon some rest after only getting one carry in week one. This run game will be facing a much tougher task on Sunday as they are facing a Steelers defense that held highly touted Giants running back Saquon Barkley to only six total yards rushing on Monday night.

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Broncos defense must step up without key pieces

As I mentioned in the injury report, the Broncos are without two key pieces of their defense in Miller and Bouye. In their Monday night loss to the Titans, the absence of both of these players showed against the passing game. They gave up 249 passing yards and two touchdowns while only coming away with one sack along with zero interceptions.

With Miller out, their primary pass rusher that they will look to get production out of this season will be Bradley Chubb, who is joined on the outside by Jeremiah Attaochu. They will look to created pressure so that the secondary can get to work which will consist of Davontae Harris as the likely replacement for Bouye at the left corner spot with Bryce Callahan on the right side.

At free safety, they have a talented starter in Justin Simmons, who is joined by Kareem Jackson at strong safety. Michael Ojemudia and Duke Dawson Jr. will also look to be key pieces in the rotation in the secondary.

They will be facing a tough task as they will be up against Ben Roethlisberger who was impressive in his first game back after elbow surgery, throwing for 229 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

While they did keep Derrick Henry out of the end zone on Monday Night, their performance against the run still wasn’t great as they still allowed him to run for 116 yards on 31 carries. As I already mentioned, they are hoping for big things from Chubb in Miller’s absence along with Attaochu.

Joining them on the defensive front are newly acquired and still very talented veteran Jurrell Casey and Shelby Harris at the defensive ends with Mike Purcell at nose. Dre’Mont Jones, DeMarcus Walker, and rookie McTelvin Agim will also be in the rotation on the defensive line.

Behind them, Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson will be the starters at inside linebacker with Mark Barron likely rotating in mainly during passing situations. They will be facing a Steelers running game that has their lead back James Conner dealing with an ankle sprain.

However, Benny Snell stepped up big time when Conner had to come out on Monday night, rushing for 113 yards on 19 carries. With that being said, it will be interesting to see what the Steelers’ run game looks like this week.

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Final Thoughts

As I said earlier, this should be a much tougher test for the Steelers than they had on Monday night. While the Broncos are dealing with some injuries, they still have a nice mixture of both young and veteran talent on their roster.

I see this game being close for at least three quarters but the overall talent for the Steelers taking over once again down the stretch. This will be another big game for Big Ben, I see him throwing for between 250-300 yards and at least two touchdowns.

I expect JuJu Smith-Schuster to get going early which will free up opportunities for Diontae Johnson.

As far as the running game is concerned, even with James Conner looking to be healthy, don’t be surprised to see the Steelers keep looking to Snell. If he can have another impressive game, that RB1 spot could be changing hands quicker than we thought.

When it is all said and done, I have the Steelers holding on to win this one 27-17.

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