15* Steelers/Broncos NBC Late-Night BAILOUT on Denver -1
Pittsburgh vs. Denver,
09/09/2012 20:20 EDT,
Score: 19 - 31
Point Spread: -1/-120 Denver
The Denver Broncos should be a bigger favorite against the Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC's Sunday Night Football in Week 1. Denver is going to be a contender in the AFC this season, and it proves it tonight with a victory over a solid Steelers team.
Four-time MVP Peyton Manning takes over at quarterback, and he has a huge chip on his shoulder heading into 2012. After Indianapolis let him go, he wants to prove to the world that he's still one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Unlike in Indianapolis, Manning actually has a running game in Denver. The Broncos averaged a league-best 165 rushing yards per game on the ground, led by Willis McGahee (1,199 yards). But they are four deep at running back and will be able to move the ball on the ground again in 2012. Eric Decker and Damaryius Thomas are two very talented receivers that just haven't had the chance to shine with Tebow at quarterback. They will look like two of the best receivers in the league in 2012 with Manning throwing them the ball.
Defensively, the Broncos really bucked down in the second half of the season last year. They have two absolute studs in OLB Von Miller (64 tackles, 11.5 sacks) and DE Elvis Dumervil (42 tackles, 9.5 sacks), who will be applying pressure on Ben Roethlisberger all game long.
Pittsburgh is battling some injuries that could lead to a slow start this season. Leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall likely won't play Sunday as he recovers from a torn ACL. James Harrison (knee) is questionable, starting guard David DeCastro is out, and free safety Ryan Clark won't play due to his struggles with higher elevations.
The Steelers' biggest weakness over the year has been a secondary that struggles against good passing attacks. Without Clark back their leading the secondary, it could get ugly. Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns in Denver's 29-23 playoff victory over Pittsburgh last season, so you can just imagine what kind of success Manning is going to have against this secondary Sunday night.
The Steelers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games. Pittsburgh is 0-6 ATS in road games in games played on a grass field over the last 2 seasons. The Steelers are losing by an average score of 11.5 to 19.8 in this spot. Bet the Broncos Sunday.