Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos (+3): Monday Night football must have known something that most of us did not. After all the off-season turmoil in Denver, to think that a Steelers/Broncos game would be a good match-up in Week 9 of the NFL season seemed crazy when the MNF schedule came out. Yet here we are, and Pittsburgh isn’t the team with the best record – that belongs to 6-1 Denver. Not only has Denver done well straight up, but they’re 6-1 ATS this season as well. And being an underdog isn’t a new thing for the Broncos, so far this season they’ve been favored just twice, against Cleveland and Oakland.
Denver is coming off a tough loss to the Ravens last week, getting pretty much blown out in the second half after going into halftime down 6-0. The Steelers are coming off a bye week right after a 4 game winning streak, including a 10 point win over Minnesota in Pittsburgh. After going 1-2 to start the season, and looking very mediocre in the process, Pittsburgh has picked it up of late, making big plays on defense and continuing to throw the ball early and often.
Denver has beaten Pittsburgh 3 of the last 4 times these two have met. But that doesn’t mean much normally, and now that these two teams have relatively young coaches with different systems and players, that history means even less. Maybe last season’s 33-10 win over New England is a better judge of past accomplishments. It was Josh McDaniels’ offense that couldn’t do much against Pittsburgh’s defense.
But lets talk about this season. The Steelers are 2-5 ATS and have not been able to put the nail in the coffin despite being up early in most games. They have struggled to close, and thus haven’t really met expectations in the margin of victory. Denver has played tough against everyone, their secondary is very good, and they bring lots of pressure to opposing passers. The Steelers might find it tough to block the Broncos pass rush, and since Big Ben holds the ball a little longer than most, that could make for some big plays for the Broncos defense. Denver shuts down opposing rushing attacks, so the weight of the world will go on Ben’s passing skills. That’s a recipe for failing to cover. So I’ll take the Broncos.