The (8-8) Denver Broncos, winners of the AFC West division, will host the (12-4) AFC North division
champion Wildcard Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card playoff round this week. It is the first playoff appearance for the Broncos since January 22, 2006 in the 2005 season AFC Championship. Ironically, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers that defeated them by the score of 34-17. This game marks the 7th time the Broncos and Steelers have met in the postseason (3-3). In five of those, the winner has gone on to Super Bowl.
The game is set for 2:30 pm MST on Sunday January 8th at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. CBS will broadcast the game with Jim Nantz calling the play by play and Phil Simms providing the color commentary.
The current forecast for the game calls for chilly weather.
R Ron Winter 14
U Michalek 115 U Hall 49
HL Mapp 52
LJ Arthur 108
FJ Steenson 88
SJ Hill 97 SJ Torbert 62
BJ Reels 83
The Steelers will be without their leading tackler FS Ryan Clark (100 TKL, 1 SK, 5 PD, 1 INT), who cannot play in Denver due to his sickle cell medical condition. RB Rashard Mendenhall (228 carries, 928 yds,a 4.1 avg, 9 TDs and 18 catches for 154 yds) has a torn ACL and will not play. QB Ben Roethlisberger is hobbled by a bad left ankle. They have also lost RB Baron Batch, QB Byron Leftwich, T Willie Colon, DE Aaron Smith, P Daniel Sepulveda, NT Chris Hoke, RB Jonathan Dwyer and DB Curtis Brown to Injured Reserve.
Just this week, Pittsburgh placed LB Chris Carter on Injured Reserve and promoted RB Chad Spann to the active roster from their Practice Squad. CB and ST's standout Anthony Madison re-signed with the Steelers on Tuesday and is expected to play in Denver because Cortez Allen has a separated shoulder. Madison will play as a Special Teams "gunner."
Maurkice Pouncey had a setback in practice on Wednesday. If he can't suit up on Sunday, Doug Legursky will take his place.
This chart represents the Rankings for the Steelers Offense as compared to the Broncos Defense. I have also included last week's rankings for the Broncos so you can see progress or regress. The DVOA stat is taken from Football Outsiders and is explained here.
|77||14th||QB Hits Allowed||N/A||N/A|
The current Offensive Line is in it's 9th or 10th combination this year due to various injuries. Last week's starters were LT Max Starks (2 False Starts, 1 Hold, 4.5 Sacks Allowed), LG Chris Kemoeatu (4 Pen, 2 HLD, 3.5 SA), C Maurkice Pouncey (3 Pen, 2 HLD, 3.5 SA), RG Ramon Foster (1 FS, 1 HLD, 4 SA) and RT Marcus Gilbert (4 FS, 7 SA). Jonathan Scott (5 Pen, 3 HLD, 4.5 SA), Doug Legursky (2 Pen, 1 HLD), Trai Essex (1 FS, 2 HLD, 2 SA) and Jamon Meredith are the backups.
This chart represents the Rankings for the Steelers Defense as compared to the Broncos Offense.
|N/A||N/A||QB Hits Allowed||24th||68|
The Steelers employ a 3-4 Defensive front. LDE Ziggy Hood (31 TKL, 1.5 SK, 1 PD), NT Casey Hampton (31 TKL), RDE Brett Keisel (48 TKL, 3 SK, 6 PD, 2 FF) are the starting linemen and Cameron Heyward (11 TKL, 1 SK, 1 PD, 1 FF), Steve McLendon (13 TKL, 1 SK) and Al Woods are the backups.
The Linebacking corp for the Steelers is a good one. LOLB LaMarr Woodley (39 TKL, 9 SK, 2 PD, 1 INT), LILB James Farrior (78 TKL, 2 SK, 3 PD), RILB Lawrence Timmons (93 TKL, 2.0 SK, 1 FF, 5 PD, 1 INT) and ROLB James Harrison (59 TKL, 9 SK, 2 FF) are the starters and Larry Foote (47 TKL, 1.5 SK, 1 PD), Jason Worilds (38 TKL, 3 SK, 1 FF), Stevenson Sylvester (7 TKL, 1 FF), Chris Carter (3 TKL) and Mortty Ivy (1 TKL) are the 2nd teamers.
In the Defensive backfield, the Left side Cornerbacks are William Gay (61 TKL, 13 PD, 1 INT) and Bryant McFadden (10 TKL, 1 PD, 1 FF). Ike Taylor (44 TKL, 14 PD, 2 INT) starts on the right side and Keenan Lewis (37 TKL, 6 PD,1 INT) backs him up. The Strong Safeties are Troy Polamalu (91 TKL, 1 SK, 14 PD, 2 INT), Will Allen (9 TKL), and Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith (3 TKL). Ryan Mundy (37 TKL, 1 PD, 1 INT) will start at Free Safety in place of Ryan Clark.
This chart represents the Rankings for both teams Special Teams Units.
The Pittsburgh Return men are Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Brown Emmanuel has 27 Kick Returns for a 27,3 average and 30 Punt Returns for a 10.8 yard average and one Touchdown. He has also made 26 Fair catches. Sanders has 5 Kick Returns for an 18.6 average and 3 Punt Returns for a 7.3 yard average.