The Denver Broncos try to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they travel to face the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers.
Steelers vs. Broncos
The Denver Broncos try to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they travel to face the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers in a NFL Week 5 contest on Sunday. The kickoff for this contest between AFC squads is scheduled for 1 pm ET at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
The Broncos fell to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4, 23-7, the first loss for a Denver team that many didn’t believe would contend for the postseason. Denver is in a three-way tie atop the AFC West standings with the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders.
Pittsburgh has dropped three straight after a season-opening win over Buffalo, including last week’s 27-17 loss at Green Bay. The Steelers are in last place in the AFC North, two games behind the rest of the division, all tied at 3-1.
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The Broncos had a costly loss to the Ravens, as starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sidelined during the game with a concussion. Bridgewater was a full participant in practice on Friday and, barring any setbacks, is expected to start this game.
Bridgewater has been solid under center for Denver this season, completing 72.1 percent of his passes and throwing for 892 yards and five touchdowns. If Bridgewater is unable to play, the Broncos will likely start Drew Lock, who passed for 113 yards and an interception after Bridgewater was hurt last week.
To keep Bridgewater out of harm’s way from the Steelers’ pass rush, the Broncos may try to rely on the ground game more. Melvin Gordon III has rushed for 248 yards and two touchdowns this season, though he’s listed as questionable for the game with a lower leg injury.
Linebacker Von Miller has been re-energized this season, recording 4.5 sacks already after missing the 2020 campaign. Miller will certainly try to get to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and force him into some mistakes, as Roethlisberger is one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL Season.
Needing A Turnaround
The Steelers are in a must-win situation already, with the Ravens, Browns, and Bengals all off to fast starts in the AFC North. Injuries have slowed Pittsburgh this season, but it must overcome those and get a home win to get back into the division race.
Defensively, linebacker TJ Watt is living up to his early billing on many sportsbooks as the potential NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Watt has only played in three games due to injury, but he already has five sacks, including two of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers last weekend.
Roethlisberger is looking all of his 39 years of age this season, completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,033 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. He’s been getting hit a lot behind the porous Steelers offensive line, taking ten sacks through four games.
The running game has had its struggles behind the offensive front as well, with rookie Najee Harris rushing for 185 yards on 55 carries. Harris has been effective in the passing game, making 26 receptions for 178 yards, as Roethlisberger often needs to check down to his back when the rush comes bearing down on him.
Steelers Get Win
Pittsburgh hasn’t looked good so far, but its defense should be able to carry it to a win in this one. If Bridgewater is able to play, he’s going to feel the pressure from Watt and Co. all game long.
Roethlisberger has been seen as washed up multiple times before, and he always seems to rebound with a solid effort. Look for Harris to have a big game and help Pittsburgh beat the NFL odds and come away with the straight-up victory.