This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers in this week 2 matchup. The TPS is sponsored by Gryffin the King!
What: Denver Broncos 0-1 at Pittsburgh Steelers 1-0
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 1pmET September 20th, 2020
Weather: Sunny and 66 degrees
Line: Steelers -7 O/U 41.5
Last Week: The Broncos lost their home and season opening game to Tennessee 16-14 while the Steelers defeated the New York Giants 26-16 in New York.
TV: CBS Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (analysis), Jay Feely (analysis)
TV Coverage in Your Area: Courtesy the506.com
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Rob King*, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley and Missi Matthews on the sidelines.
*King will call the first two games as Bill Hillgrove serves a two-game suspension for his DUI earlier this year.
Head Official: Adrian Hill. He is in just his second year as a head official but has been in the NFL since 2010. Last season Hill officiated the Steelers’ 16-10 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati. There were 17 accepted penalties in the game including 10 for 77 yards against the Steelers.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: G David DeCastro (KNEE), G Stefen Wisniewski (CHEST) – OUT DEN: ILB Mark Barron (Hamstring) – Out, RB Phillip Lindsay (Toe) – Out, T Garrett Bolles (Elbow) – Questionable
WR Tyrie Cleveland (Hip) – Questionable, WR Courtland Sutton (Shoulder) – Questionable
2019 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 13th DEN 29th Passing Offense: PIT 22nd DEN 19th Rushing Offense: PIT 8th 20th
Total Defense: PIT 6th DEN 7th Passing Defense: PIT 24th DEN 21st Rushing Defense: PIT 1st DEN 19th
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 1-0, Pittsburgh 1-0, Cleveland 1-1, Cincinnati 0-2
This Week in the AFC North: Cleveland 35 Cincinnati 30 (Thurs), Baltimore at Houston
What You Need to Know: The Steelers won their last meeting in Pittsburgh against the Broncos 34-27 back in 2015… Pittsburgh is 15-4 in home openers at Heinz Field… All-time, the Steelers are 50-34-3 in home openers… The Black and Gold have lost two straight home openers (KC and SEA)… Since 1991, the Steelers are just 3-6 against the Broncos… In week 8 last season James Conner rushed 145 yards against Miami. He did not go above 55 yards in a game in the other nine games he played.
Denver Broncos Names to Know: QB Drew Luck, DT Jurrell Casey, WR Jerry Jeudy, OLB Jerry Jeudy, TE Jake Butt, RB Melvin Gordon, S Justin Simmons, TE Noah Fant, S Kareem Jackson
What’s at Stake: For the Broncos, the fear of falling to 0-2 and looking up at the rest of an already tough division is paramount. For the Steelers, keeping pace with Baltimore is huge even this early in the season.
All-Time Series: Broncos lead 20-11-3 and lead in Pittsburgh 7-6
Last Meeting: In Denver 2018, Broncos 24 Steelers 17
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Mental Toughness. The Steelers have had an interesting week. Following their win Monday night, questions swirled about Alejandro Villanueva’s decision to put a different name on his helmet. It was likely a bigger issue with fans but it was clearly something that had to be dealt with by several teammates. Pittsburgh is also playing a Denver team that is depleted by injury. The Steelers need to make sure they aren’t overlooking a wounded dog here. Denver was the only team in the AFC West to lose last week which means going 0-2 could be a huge nail in their coffin. The Steelers have to be ready to play on Sunday and shouldn’t take anything for granted.
Clean Things Up. A win is a win in the NFL but the Steelers had mistakes Monday night especially in the Special Teams department. Diontae Johnson muffed the first punt of the game and nearly the second one as well. Chris Boswell missed an extra point and nearly missed a field goal. Johnson’s night didn’t get better until the middle of the second half as he had numerous problems on offense too. Defensively, there need to be some tings cleaned up to in terms of help in coverage and in relation to zone drops. Teams often make their biggest jump in improvement between weeks one and two and the Steelers need to follow this plan.
Lock Him Down. I’m not yet convinced that Drew Lock can be a big time quarterback in the NFL but the Broncos are clearly invested in him. If the Steelers can shut down Saquan Barkley the way they did then they can do the same with Melvin Gordon. Seems to me that the Broncos will have to rely heavily on Lock then to be successful. He takes care of the ball pretty well and will dump the ball off when necessary but he can solve the Steelers’ defense? He will face pressure he hasn’t seen before and will need to rely on his tight ends and lesser known wide receivers. Keith Butler cannot sit back in zone early the way he did last week. He needs to shake things up a bit and confuse the young Lock. Giving him confidence as Daniel Jones gained early last week isn’t good for the defense.
Prediction: While the Steelers are playing at home for the first time in 2020 there won’t be any sort of home-field advantage as the seats will be empty. I suspect they will come out much more confident than they did last week but Denver won’t be an easy out. The defense will target rookie Kevin Dotson who starts at right guard and Chuks Okorafor who starts at right tackle. I believe Mike Tomlin does the right thing and starts Benny Snell who he will ride early in an attempt to help the offensive line keep the Broncos’ pass rushers at bay. The Steelers’ D should once again be solid and do enough to win this game but I don’t know how much the offense will help.
Steelers 23 Broncos 13