5* Wild Card Game of the Year
Pittsburgh vs. Denver,
01/08/2012 16:30 EDT,
Score: 23 - 29
Point Spread: +9/-110 Denver
5* Wild Card Game of the Year on Broncos +9
Winning on the road isn't easy in the playoffs. We saw both home teams win impressively in Saturday's Wild Card games, and I expect home field to provide an edge for Denver here.
Denver's home field has already given it an edge considering it will keep Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark, who wasn’t cleared to play in Denver’s high altitude because of a sickle cell trait condition, out of the lineup. He isn't the only key piece the reigning AFC champs will be missing.
Leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall is out as is starting center Maurkice Pouncey. It's also clear Big Ben Roethlisberger's ankle is in pretty bad shape. He'll play but won't have the same escapability. Don't be surprised if Denver's strong pass rush (41 sacks on the year) gets to to him often.
Denver may not score much in this one, but I don't think a Pittsburgh offense that has really been limited by the injury to Mendenhall will either. Tebow has had a few rough games down the stretch, but I'm not ready to forget all the kid has done. The guy is a gamer, and I believe he has enough big plays in him to give the Steelers a run for the money.
Pittsburgh is a poor 2-11 ATS in its last 13 games as a road favorite of 7.5 to 14 points. It has won these games by just 3.4 points on average. The Steelers are also just 2-7 ATS in their last 9 road games overall.
The Broncos are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as an underdog and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 playoff home games. Take the points.