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Ultimate Fan: Broncos must contain Big Ben to win in Pittsburgh

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The Broncos suffered a stunning loss at home last week against the Raiders, but if the players are half as angry as fans, then they should have the right amount of chip on their shoulders this week as they head to Pittsburgh. And they are going to need a little fire of their own to beat this sizzling Steelers team whose offense is on a huge roll.

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Welcome back to another fabulous installment of the Ultimate Fan Guide with a veteran commenter - and an inaugural member of the MHR Hall of Fame, I should add - j-man.

But before he drops some knowledge on us about this hot Steelers team that his dad loves, let's give lancing_2009 a moment to grieve over last week's insanely frustrating loss.

Denver v. Oakland

I'm totally heartbroken right now. Gary Kubiak and Michael Schofield singlehandedly ruined my Sunday afternoon last weekend. With the help of Khalil Mack, the Raiders managed to almost completely shut down the Broncos in the second half. I thought Brock played well, especially given the constant pressure he had in his lap. Now I'm for sure that BROCK is the local mall Santa.

I took a little heat for saying Mack was going to go off on Sunday. Turns out my prediction wasn't far from right. I figured he'd have a pretty good day, something along the lines of two or three sacks, but five? In one half??? Are you kidding me?????

The running game completely got shut down and it seemed that Kubes was content letting Brock try to win it with his arm. This is poor coaching on multiple levels. I've been a rabid Kubes defender and Brock supporter, but now I'm just a Broncos supporter and at this point, I'm ready to say push Kubiak out the door come February.

For lancing's sake as well as j-man's (whose favorite team of all time for the Broncos to beat is none other than the Steelers, let's all hope this weekend is a much better showing for the players as well as the coaches.

And now, on to Pittsburgh...

Denver at Pittsburgh

MHR - There was a lot of criticism of Gary Kubiak's play-calling and halftime adjustments. What's your opinion on his coaching last game? All season so far?
j-man: The only disappointing thing  was 1-1 on Khalil Mack. Kubiak's coaching has been average, to be kind. A coach needs to be a CEO-type, needs to talk to the refs if need be, pep up or chew out a coach, and he has to have awareness on everything and every action he chooses. He has to help and be the best for the team.

MHR - The offense fell apart last weekend in many ways - dropped balls, no touchdowns, sacks, fumbles...the list is long. What are the two most important improvements on offense that have to happen this week to have a chance against the Steelers?
j-man: No turnovers  and Broncos must score in the red zone.

The key this weekend is no turnovers, and Broncos must score in the red zone. -j-man

MHR - Can you fix the offensive line issues at this point in the season (or is it a lost cause) and how do you do it for the next three-plus games?
j-man: You run 2 or 3-TE sets and you say to Brock or Peyton, "What 12-15 pass plays do you like and can you run?" You run three-step drops, slants, hitches, rub pick routes and deep routes if the o-line is protecting well.

MHR - There's an inevitable question looming once Peyton Manning is healthy. Assuming he can get to 100%, how do you work him back in to the offense? How do you think the Broncos will?
j-man: Yes, I think the Broncos will work Manning in IF Denver loses and scores under 17 points.

MHR - What offensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
j-man: Pittsburgh is good against the run, so what Denver needs to do is pick on the Steelers' No. 2 cornerback.

MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos offense this Sunday?
j-man: C.J. Anderson, if healthy. Also Emmanuel Sanders will want to atone for last week plus show his ex-teammates that Pittsburgh should have kept him.

MHR - Our defense once again held its opponent to very little production last week, so what is the highest number of points the Steelers can score that our offense will be able to keep up with and beat?
j-man: 24

MHR - Ben Roethlisberger has a 99.9 passer rating from Pro Football Focus. How much of a challenge will he be this weekend and what makes him the most dangerous?
j-man: Ben will be a huge worry. He can throw the ball 70 yards, and if you let him get in a groove, he can get 350+ yards. With his scrambling ability, he is so hard to get down.

MHR - What will be a bigger challenge - getting after Big Ben or containing Antonio Brown and the rest of the big-time receivers?
j-man: Getting after Big Ben for sure. I expect the Steelers to throw short and safe, or to try and pick on Brad Roby.

MHR - Although the Steelers beat the Bengals 33-20, they did so with only two offensive touchdowns (and both were rushing touchdowns). What are three keys for the Broncos defense this weekend to keep the Steelers' offense from running away with the score?

  • Stop Heath Miller on third down
  • Stop the bubble screens
  • Do not let Martavis Bryant or Markus Wheaton get going or Pittsburgh can do anything they want on offense (and my dad will be happy but still have to hide his happiness because I am not be good to be around after a Denver loss, especially last Sunday).

MHR - What defensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
j-man: Third-down conversions

MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos defense this Sunday?
j-man: Aqib Talib. If he can shut down Bryant, that will limit what Ben can do. Honorable mention to Brandon Marshall because he will have to shut down Miller.

MHR - Brandon McManus hasn't exactly been McMoney lately. Are you concerned about him?
j-man: No, but he will struggle this week kicking because kicking at the open end of Heinz Field is almost impossible to do.

MHR - How much confidence do you have in Britton Colquitt to put the Steelers far back in their own territory when necessary?
j-man: Not much, but his dad was the punter for the Steelers' teams of the 70s/80s, including two Super Bowl teams (*editor's note: so there's that).

MHR - How big of a deal is (was?) it to get the bye and to have home-field advantage in the playoffs?
j-man: For Peyton Manning-type teams, it's a big deal. But if you have great defense and special teams, you can win three road games if need be. Let's look at the AFC....

  • Steelers - Mike Tomiln tends to make one bonehead move a game. I know because my dad and uncle say it every week.
  • Chiefs - Can they win in the playoffs at home to get rid of they 22-year no playoff win steak?
  • Bengals - They have to prove it in the playoffs.
  • Jets - A carbon copy of us.
  • Texas/Colts - No QB. Houston or Indy seems to always play against Denver - lol.

So basically other than the Patriots, no matter what anyone says, Denver is No. 2 behind New England.


Predictions

Stats for Osweiler? 240 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Number of yards rushing for the Broncos? 100 (with Anderson); 48 without.

Which receiver gets the most yards? Vernon Davis, 7 for 120 yards, 1 TD

Number of sacks to Osweiler? 2

Number of sacks on Ben Roethlisberger? 3

Broncos player with the most sacks? 3-way tie: Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, Von Miller

Broncos player with the most tackles? BMarsh with 7

Number of penalties? Broncos, 6 for 75 yards; Steelers 4 for 50.

Field goals by McManus? Two, 41 and 35.

Final Score? Broncos 20-17

The Favorites

  • Team you hate to lose to the most? Patriots
  • Team you love to beat the most? Steelers
  • Which game will be harder - Pittsburgh or Cincy? Pittsburgh
  • Favorite Broncos game against the Steelers? Either the 1997 AFC Championship Game or the 2011 Wild Card game (editor's note: I believe that was a gratuitous plea for a little Tim Tebow highlight, was it not?)

  • Favorite Broncos jersey? My No. 84 Woodard jersey
  • Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Chris Harris Jr. but Todd Davis favorited one of my tweets, so can I pick two?
  • Favorite Broncos player of all time? Rod Smith or Shannon Sharpe. Rod really enjoyed meeting me because we both are from Arkansas (and so did Romo, Bert Berry and Keith Washington!) Shannon and I have talked on Twitter.
  • Favorite Broncos story? I wore my 84 jersey on my Make A Wish trip to send a message to Shanny that Broncos should have never let Sharpe leave. And what do you know, the next year he was back. People can disagree, but I believe I was the main factor in bring Sharpe back to Denver (*editor's note: As an owner of a Shannon Sharpe jersey and personally autographed football, thank YOU j-man!)
  • Superstitions on game day? My main superstition is turning my TV on mute or no sound. My dad and mom leave me alone on game day because they do not want to hear me ranting if Denver loses. *Also, my dad told me to tell you he just wants a win for playoff purposes and that Denver is his second favorite team!

How did you become a Broncos fan?

To be honest I did not want to root for Pittsburgh or Dallas, and my first memory of football was the  1991 Denver v. Buffalo AFCGC.  I only watched like 30 min of it, but it just stuck with me. By 1993, i had a poster of Denver in my room. The worst part was the 1996 divisional round playoff game against the Jags. I had just gotten a TV in my room the previous October, and after that game, I just stared at it like a zombie...and watched a collage basketball game.