I brushed upon it earlier in the week, and I'll say it again. This is a must win game, no doubt about it. Sure, the Broncos can still make the playoffs if they lose, and can still win their division. But if this is a Super Bowl team, and Jake Plummer is the quarterback that can get them there, then this is the type of a game they have to win. That said, here are some keys to victory for the Broncos.
Darrent Williams Must Rebound -- Williams had the worst game of his career last week, but all of it wasn;t his fault. The Broncos were forced to put him on and island, and the scheme the Broncos play allows way too much space for receivers to get into their routes. I still think if the Broncos woould allow their DBs to jam receiver they would be more effective. Regardless of all that, the Steelers don't have the talent at wideout that Colts have, and they definitly don't have Peyton Manning. With Champ Bailey shadowing Hines Ward all day, Williams will have to win the battle with whoever the Steelers line up on his side, be it Cedric Wilson or Santonio Holmes.
D-Line Must Own Line Of Scrimmage -- The Steelers have struggled this year mostly because they have yet to have success in their running game. Willie Parker is having a decent year, but the Steelers have not been able to dominate the game on the ground. That has forced Ben Roethlisberger to take the game in his hands, and 11 interceptions shows that isn't a good idea. The Steelers are going to try and get the ground game going, and the Broncos D-Line are going to have to force the Steelers into 2nd and 3rd and Long. Force Ben to beat us.
Weather The Storm -- Throw the record out the window. The Steelers are a better football tema than 2-5 would lead us to believe. Just ask the Chiefs, who fell down huge...early. The Broncos cannot allow the crowd to have an effect early. The Steelers defense is still formidable and they feed off the fans in the stands. Avoid an early turnover, and get into a football game and I think the Broncos have the advantage. Give the Steelers an early opportunity to score and it could snowball down the wrong path.
Get the Running Game Going -- The Broncos offense had some success last weekend, and much of it was a direct result of the running game. The Broncos rushed for well over 200 yards and Mike Bell was a big reason. With Tatum Bell nursing injuries to both feet, Mike Bell will tote the rock a majority of the time this week and his hard running style will be key to the success of the Broncos Offense. The Steelers are going to key on bootlegs and misdirection so the Broncos are going to have to have positive plays with the running game.
Get Some Turnovers; A Defensive or Special Teams TD Would Be Nice -- Last week not withstanding, the Broncos defense has played great, but we still are in the minus in turnover ratio, and the defense or special teams has yet to score. In a game like this a TD from one of the other twi facets of the game would be a huge lift. Oakland scored two TD's on defense last week against Pittsburgh, including a 100 yard interception return. Pittsburgh cover teams have also been a near the bottom of the league, so today would be a good time for Brian Clark to make a name in the return game.
My Take -- This game is going to be hard hitting, intense, and electric from the coin flip on. The Steelers are playing for their post-season lives. If they are going to make a run at defending their title it has to start now. The Broncos are out to prove that last week was a bump in the road, and not a tru indication of where they are as a team. I think it was. I am not big on the revenge factor in football, but there is no doubt that the Broncos are thinking that they could be the team that effectively turns the lights out on the Steelers' season. An extra bit of motivation never hurts. The Broncos will be able to stop the Steelers running game, and make just enough plays on offense to get a huge road win.
BRONCOS 17 - STEELERS 10