clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Steelers fans don't really believe in the Broncos defense

New, comments

The Denver Broncos face the Pittsburgh Steelers in a huge game with big time playoff implications. This week I spoke with Jeff Hartman from to get some insights on the Steelers and the challenges Denver faces this week.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
1) The Steelers are considered by many (including myself) to be the most dangerous team in the NFL right now. They are hot as a branding iron. What have they been doing to dig themselves out of their injury troubles and make noise at this point in the season?

Consistency has been the key for this Pittsburgh Steelers team, and getting your franchise QB back on the field hasn't hurt either. Since Roethlisberger's return against the Bengals in Week 8, the offense has slowly been building into the juggernaut fans expected to start the season. His first game back against Cincinnati was rough, and the team was only able to put up 10 points. Since then, every game has equated to the Steelers putting at least 30 points on the board. Many of their injuries are masked by their tremendous skill position players, but on defense it has been about depth.

This team isn't an All Star crew from top to bottom, but they do have a great corps and are well coached. Makes them a tough out for any opponent.

2) What about your defense has you concerned at this point in the season?

The secondary is the primary concern for myself and fans everywhere. They are one of the worst statistical secondary units in the NFL, but the weird part of this defense is they are extremely stingy in the red-zone. They are near the top 10 in points allowed per game, and are extremely opportunistic in regards to turnovers. This defense is a bend-don't-break unit which has feasted on mistakes made by opposing quarterbacks, usually under pressure. If the Steelers can get to Brock, the secondary will be just fine.

3) Tell us about a couple of players that are killing it this year but just aren't well known outside of your fan base.

The Steelers offense is well known, but some players on defense who are turning heads would be Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as the team's book end tackles in their 3-4 defense. They might be some of the best at their position in the AFC, and are worth watching on game day. Other than those two players, safety Mike Mitchell is having an incredible season, displaying the talent which brought him to Pittsburgh as a free agent after the 2015 season. Mitchell has 3 interceptions on the season and is a physical force in the secondary.

4) Who has done a good job of slowing down your offense recently and what is it they did well against the Steelers?

The last offense to "slow down" the Steelers was the Bengals in Week 8, and that was largely due to Roethlisberger just coming back from his sprained knee. The Bengals were able to get pressure up the middle, and prevent Roethlisberger from extending the play. When a defense is able to get consistent pressure on Roethlisberger, he will make ill-advised throws. This is exactly what he did in Week 8 with 3 untimely interceptions which equated in the loss. The Steelers offensive line has improved by leaps and bounds as the season has progressed, and has been keeping Roethlisberger upright. If teams give Big Ben the time, he will pick any defense apart.

5) What are your keys to this game and prediction?
The Broncos defense is tremendous, but they haven't faced an offense like Pittsburgh's yet.

The key to this game is on the offensive line. Can they give DeAngelo Williams running lanes to keep the offense balanced, and will they give Roethlisberger the protection necessary to make plays downfield. The Broncos defense is tremendous, but they haven't faced an offense like Pittsburgh's yet. That fact, along with playing at Heinz Field, I like the Steelers in this matchup by the score of 27-20.