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NFL picks Week 15: Steelers heavy favorites over Broncos - Horse Tracks

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Good Game Day morning, Broncos Country!

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The Denver Broncos are 6.5-point underdogs in Week 15, the biggest spread against them in three years. Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers will indeed prove to be a tall task. Even the Mile High Report staff was unusually torn in its weekly predictions piece.

The "experts" at ESPN, CBS, SI, and SB Nation all fall in line with this spread in their Week 15 NFL picks pieces, voting heavily for the home team in Brock Osweiler's fifth NFL start.

Eleven of 13 ESPNers pick Pittsburgh
Even Stinky goes against his orange and blue.

Seven of eight SB Nation experts are rolling with Ben and company
The problem is that their offense is often incapable of producing enough points to win games. Because of their inconsistent play under center, the Broncos' winning formula revolves around the ability to run the ball. In each of their three losses, they have been held under 70 yards rushing. That's a potential disaster situation for Denver on Sunday: the Steelers and their sixth-ranked rush defense are seemingly well-positioned to stop the Broncos on the ground.

Seven of eight CBS Sports analysts go against Broncos
Only Ryan Wilson takes Denver.

PFT’s Michael David Smith and Mike Florio both pick Steelers big
MDS’s take: Brock Osweiler got more credit than he deserved when Denver won a few games after he took over for Peyton Manning. The Broncos will lose their second straight game on Sunday, and we’ll start hearing calls for Manning to return. MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Broncos 17. Florio’s take: Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning, it doesn’t matter. The Steelers offense has found its groove, making it good enough to outscore a Denver team that relies on its defense to support a so-so offense. Florio’s pick: Steelers 34, Broncos 21.

SI's Don Banks predicts a 27-17 win for Pittsburgh
In order for Denver to keep this game close, it’s going to have to rekindle a running game that averaged 161 yards rushing in Brock Osweiler’s first three starts before producing a measly 34 yards on 21 carries in last week’s home loss to the Raiders. Osweiler didn’t play badly last week, throwing for more than 300 yards on 35 completions despite having Khalil Mack in his facemask all game long. But Denver asked him to carry too much of the load, and that wound up contributing to the Broncos’ red-zone difficulties, with the offense scoring just four field goals in the 15–12 loss. That’s not going to cut it against the Steelers, who have scored at least 30 points in five consecutive games and can’t afford to incur a sixth loss if they’re going to make the AFC playoffs. This is the win that ultimately should get Pittsburgh in, because Mike Tomlin’s club finishes at Baltimore and at Cleveland.

ESPN's Jeff Legwold predicts 27-17 Pittsburgh
Denver Broncos: It’s difficult to believe the Broncos, who lost to the Raiders after giving up only 126 yards of total offense, can match the Steelers' offense. Pittsburgh has gained at least 459 yards in four of the past five games and has topped 500 yards in three of those games. Denver has averaged 22.1 points in its seven road games this season, including four defensive touchdowns. So the Broncos are good enough to get the win. It’s just difficult to believe, with the injuries to the offensive line and how things looked on offense against the Raiders, that the offense can do enough to outscore Pittsburgh. Steelers 27, Broncos 17. -- Jeff Legwold

What do you think, Broncos Country? Time to show the world to stop doubting the orange and blue again?

Horse Tracks

Factoring The Latest Information, It'll Be A Miracle If Peyton Manning Returns To The Denver Broncos In 2015 - Denver - Scout
With the recent confirmation via Archie Manning that Peyton's injury is 5-6 months old, Doc Bear taps into his knowledge as a medical professional to project whether the five-time MVP will ever be healthy enough to return in 2015.

Three Keys to Broncos-Steelers
1. Get the ground game going. This starts with the Broncos' blockers getting a better push off the snap than they did last week, when too often they were pushed back into the paths of Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson, leading to a per-carry average of 1.62 yards that was the Broncos' worst since they gained just 19 yards on 20 carries in an Oct. 3, 2010 win at Tennessee.

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson expected back vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
"I think he’s fine, he practiced, he’s ready to go," Kubiak said. "We should be back at full strength in that spot."

9 reasons the Broncos can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers
1.Turnovers There are two to five upsets every week in the NFL and turnovers are 99 percent behind them. The Denver D needs to come up with one or two turnovers that gives Brock Osweiler's offense a short field. It needs to come up with one turnover while the Steelers are in field-goal position. And the Broncos themselves must commit no more than one turnover.

Renck: Harder the quarterback choice, the better it is for the Broncos' postseason - The Denver Post
Denver's offense hasn't scored a touchdown in 23 consecutive possessions, or since the opening drive against the Chargers. This doesn't fall entirely in Osweiler's lap. Still, he's the quarterback. Blame isn't fair in the NFL. If the issues of the past two weeks bleed into Pittsburgh, the Broncos will not pull off the upset Sunday. They need three offensive touchdowns to stand a chance.

Broncos cut down on flags, keep up the pressure - USA Today
The Denver Broncos have managed to cut down on their penalties, particularly personal fouls, while maintaining an aggression that's allowed them to strengthen their standing as the league's top defense. It's just because of friendlier officials, suggested cornerback Chris Harris Jr.

Mason's Mailbag: Peyton Manning, the offensive line and, yes, still more helmet and uniform talk
Is the Force with the Broncos? That wasn't a Mailbag question, but it should have been.

Clinton Portis owes nearly $5 million, counts mother as creditor
A federal bankruptcy filing this week showed Portis owes nearly $5 million to creditors.