In previous years, KaptainKirk has put out "Upon Further Review," a look at the the Broncos upcoming opponent. It was a massive post that many of you might have found tedious to take in. It was decided that we should break this preview up into three separate posts. In this way, it will be more tolerable and reader-friendly. So when the Denver Broncos play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night in Denver, here’s what they will face on the Defensive side of the ball.
So here's the starters for the Pittsburgh Steelers Defense:
DE's: Ziggy Hood, Brett Keisel
NT: Casey Hampton
OLB: LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison
ILB's: Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons
- OLB James Harrison has been on the injured list and doesn't figure to be 100% Sunday Night. FS Ryan Clark will be out with a Sickle Cell trait, and Ryan Mundy will get the start at FS again.
The Steelers have a solid and deep D-Line. Hampton and Keisel are the veterans of the groups and achor the line. The Steelers have drafted well and rely on two former 1st round picks, Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward. Both of which figure to see time at DE. Two guys who could also see time at the NT position are Steve McLendon, whom the Steelers are high on, and massive rookie Alameda Ta'amu. This group figures to be a tough matchup for the Denver Broncos Offense.
A much improved Broncos D-Line needs to have a strong performance Sunday Night if they want to come away with a win. Veteran pass rush specialist Elvis "DOOM" Dumervil will be a constant pain for the Steelers offense. Rookie Derek Wolfe will start opposite of Dumervil, and it will be interesting to see how he does. He has had a strong preseason, lets hope he carries it over to the season. In the middle are veterans Ty Warren who is finally healthy and Justin Bannan. The Broncos are hoping both of them can be run stuffers in the middle. DT's Mitch Unrein and Kevin Vickerson also figure to get some reps in the middle. DE Robert Ayers who probably will see the field alot, subbing in for Dumervil on rushing downs will have to play good. There's alot of versatility along the Broncos D-Line, so it will be interesting how new D-Coordinator Jack Del Rio will make it work.
The Steelers have one of the best pair of pass rushing linebackers in the league. LaMarr Woodley is one of the best in the league, and his counter part, James Harrison is dominant as well. However, Harrison may not suit up Sunday night. If he doesn't, the Steelers have Jason Worilds and Chris Carter, both of whom are solid youngsters for the Steelers. Even ig Harrison is active, i would expect to see one, if not both of them on the field. In the Middle, veteran Larry Foote anchors the defense, and next to him, Lawrence Timmons is also very solid. Overall this is a very solid group for the Steelers.
Broncos: This might be the Broncos biggest weakness on the team. Von Miller is a stud, no questioning that. Now Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard need to have good seasons. I'm a believer in Woodyard, i think under Jack Del Rio's coaching, he can take the next step to becoming a solid linebacker. Joe Mays has had a solid preseason and training camp. He is solid in the run game(though he takes some bad angles and misses tackles once in awhile), and has seemed to improve in coverage. I'm interested to see if the Broncos put rookie Danny Trevathan in on Nickel downs. Overall this group has alot of question marks, and potential. Lets hope they play well.
This is where i see the Steelers most vulnerable. Yes they have Troy Polamalu back there, and he's as good as they get, but they will be without Ryan Clark, who is more important than you think to the Steelers D. Ryan Mundy, who was victimized by Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs last year, will fill in for Clark. Ike Taylor is good, but i think Peyton can take advantage of him. DT and Decker both could be issues for Taylor. I honestly do not know much about Keenan Lewis, but Manning has torched better corners in the past. This will be the matchup i'm going to keep an eye on. The Broncos pass offense against the Steelers secondary.
The Broncos focused on improving the secondary this offseason, and it looks like they did. Champ Bailey will lock down half of the field. Tracy Porter will be on the other side. The Broncos need Porter to have a good year. He will get a lot passes thrown at him. Both Champ and Porter need to not be beat deep either Sunday Night. Big Ben is one of the best deep ball throwers in the game today, and Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emanuel Sanders are all viable deep threats. Chris Harris will be patrolling the slot. The safeties will have to have a strong game as well. Second year player Rahim Moore and veteran Mike Adams both need to not let anything get past them deep. This unit needs to have a solid performance Sunday Night.