The premier matchup in Week 15 is at Heinz Field, when the Broncos and Steelers meet with major playoff implications. After a narrow loss to the Raiders, Denver has fallen to the third seed in the AFC playoff picture, and would now host the Jets in a Wild Card game. The Steelers are on the outside looking in, and could very well replace the Jets in that matchup by season’s end.
After early season injuries put their year in jeopardy, the Steelers are rolling at the right time. They’ve won four of their last five games, and have scored 30 points or more in all five. But they need to keep winning to make the Wild Card, as the Chiefs hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them. Now they get the Broncos at home, where they are 5-2 this season.
The Heinz Field crowd is a big reason why the Steelers opened as a 6.5 point favorite against the Broncos this week.
Here’s what the early-week odds have to say about the matchup, per OddsShark:
Line: Steelers -6.5
Moneyline: Denver +220, Pittsburgh -270
What To Watch For
It may be Brock Osweiler’s first visit to Pittsburgh, but the Broncos have been strong on the road this season. They’re 6-1 away from home but more importantly, are 4-2-1 against the spread.
As was the case with Oakland, the Broncos must find a way to keep their young QB upright if they want to keep winning football games. Last week they were overwhelmed by Khalil Mack, who recorded five sacks in one half. The Steelers don’t have anyone comparable to Mack but they do have 38 sacks as a team, the fifth-most in the NFL.
Denver is also monitoring the injury progress of Peyton Manning, who hasn’t started since Week 10. Manning practiced away from the team last week, and was ruled as day-to-day before the game against Oakland.
NFL Network reported that the decision won’t be made on Manning’s practice status until Tuesday. Osweiler is 3-1 in his four starts since taking over for Manning, but posted a season-low 33.2 QBR against the Raiders.