Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos Betting Odds Preview - NFL Week 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers at the Denver Broncos, this will probably be the closest, high profile game of the weekend. The Sunday night game on NBC will get big ratings as these two teams are likely to finish the season near the top of the AFC and there’s a grudge to settle from last year. The Steelers went through the 2012 preseason with a 3-1 record playing moderately difficult teams; the Broncos went 2-2 but had a more difficult preseason schedule, notably a close loss to San Francisco.

Historically these two teams have not faced each other often. Before last season they had not played each other since 2009. But last year the Broncos beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs, in overtime, 29-23. Then the Broncos were led by Tim Tebow, now with Payton Manning heading the offense it becomes hard to compare the past to the present. However, last year’s game is very much on the minds of the Steelers according to safety Ryan Clark, they want payback.

The Steelers should be ready and they should be an improvement off of last season’s team. For example, Ben Roethlisberger’s arm is stronger than ever according to receiver Mike Wallace; as a plus, new reports say Wallace will be ready to play for Sunday’s game. In sense this game will be a QB battle. Both teams have Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, both teams have great but not amazing running backs and both teams have one or two great receivers, but not three or four. How Payton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger handle the football will really be a huge factor in the outcome of the game. When the strength of each team’s defense is factored in, the importance of superior QB play is heightened. Both defenses will be roughly the same as they were last year which means Payton is facing the number one pass defense and number eight run defense from last season. Roethlisberger will be contending with the number eighteenth pass defense and twenty-second run defense from last season. Edge to the Steelers here.
The odds show just how close this game is going to be. The point spread is 1.5 points! The over/under is 44.5 points. The Broncos are favored to win this game. But even if you disagree with the odds about who should win, is the over/under total reasonable? It’s really hard to say because Payton did not play much during this year’s preseason. The most he played was against San Francisco and he played very well, but the rest of the preseason he was mediocre. Probably Payton will be Payton; as long as the Broncos protect him, there will be lots of points scored. San Francisco, like Pittsburgh, have a great defense and Payton threw two touchdowns on them and had a 148.6 rating before leaving that game. Thinking about Payton’s competitive spirit, the Steelers’ desire for payback and a weak Denver defense, there’s a good chance this game will go over 44.5 points. Will the winner cover the spread? Likely, the season is still early, players are returning from mild preseason injuries and no one has played a full game yet. Probably one team or the other will make a costly mistake or two which will produce a decisive victory.

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