Broncofan Posted October 5, 2021 Share Posted October 5, 2021 (edited) Sunday, October 11th, 2021 Location: Heinz Field Time: 1 PM ET DVOA: Denver 15th (15th Offense; 7th Defense, 29th Special Teams); Pittsburgh 24th (25th Offense, 22nd Defense, 22nd Special Teams) So, full respect to @lomaxgrUK for taking the first 3, figured I'd fall on this sword next. Keys to the game as I see it: 1. Can our pass rush get to Big Ben and make him turn it over - this is not the Big Ben we've been used to seeing. His decline into 2015 Peyton corpse territory started in the 2H of last year - and it's painfully obvious. He cannot push the ball downfield. So the Q is - can we take advantage? Their retooled OL is really not playing well...at all. That's a pretty lethal combo. The thing is, our pass rush hasn't been that dominant - we've faced terribly easy competition until last week. Von Miller is still the Von we know - but sadly, Malik Reed hasn't stepped up. This graph sums it up perfectly: Malik's getting one-on-one - and not winning. This needs to improve, against a very suspect OL, otherwise Von's going to see double-triple teams soon. I loved the S blitz feature with Caden Sterns, maybe we include some there - but bottom line, our D should be able to generate pressure, and get TO's. That's matters, because... 2. Can our OL bounce back vs. the PIT front 7 - let's be clear, the PIT run D is still very stout, top 10 (7th by DVOA). And their pass rush when TJ Watt is there, is still a force to be reckoned with. So, getting run game success and pass pro for Teddy B / Lock, is key. The OL was miserable last week - no one gets a pass. Can they rebound? I do hope one o the G's comes back, because as @lomaxgrUK pointed out, the G's and especially Muti got killed in pass pro. That's important for the next matchup... 3. How does our speed-deprived WR/TE corps do against PIT's leaky secondary - where the PIT D can be exploited - in coverage. Why protection is so key - their secondary is how you win. If we had Jeudy/Hamler and a healthy Fant, I'd feel great about this matchup. As it is, I think we should find success, but it's a lot iffier to predict, given the D doesn't need to respect the deep ball. The trench battle and how our WR/TE's do against the secondary are likely the game swinging results. 4. Can our ST's match Pittsburgh's - PIT usually has great ST's, so their 20's rank is shocking. But as we've covered, we're abysmal here. Can we at least match up and not lose badly here? 5. Will Teddy B return and bounce back - if fans recall, Lock's horrible struggles vs. PIT really hurt us with the pick leading to Sutton's ACL, and then him going down. His weaknesses play right into what PIT does best - disguised looks, pressure from different areas. Teddy B has a much better chance to handle this - I'd imagine he should get cleared if this is his 1st concussion, but always tricky to know. If he does, let's not let him off the hook for injury vs. BAL - he wasn't playing well in that game b4 he got hurt. Hopefully he bounces back. 6. Can our secondary / LB's cover their WR's & Najee Harris in the short - intermediate game - while Big Ben can't throw it deep, they have 4 viable weapons in Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Najee Harris and Juju Smith-Schuster (the latter who's becoming more of a short area guy only, the other 3 can really make magic happen with YAC). Diontae is a big problem in beating coverage - Surtain, Fuller & co. had a real off day, do they bounce back? This is where no Darby hurts too. 7. Will Fangio's game management get back to Week 1, or will it be his usual bad MO - in a close game, this could be the difference. I know it's scary when your QB play is bad, but playing to not lose fails far more in close contested games (as opposed to facing lesser teams, and taking the safe play reduces the variance helping a worse team out). This is a matchup where clock management, and some aggression would be nice to see. Gotta admit I'm worried after seeing it last week - could be excused Week 2-3 as not wanting to give lesser teams a chance to get a fluke bounce their way...but in close games, being aggressive usually wins out. A huge test for Fangio if this is close, and he needs to make the tough call. If we didn't have Jewell, Darby & Chubb out on D, and Jeudy/ Hamler, with a depleted OL and bad Big Ben, I'd love our chances. I still think we could win this - but the early start, and that PIT D pass rush, and our lack of explosion / multi-level threats from our WR's and a gimpy Fant, I could easily see a 20-17 L (if TJ Watt is healthy, that's a problem). Either way, going to be a massive bellweather test - we were by far the inferior team to the Ravens. We're not by any means a lesser team to Pittsburgh's team they are throwing out there now. Time to see if Fangio, the OL & whoever is QB can bounce back in a big way. Edited October 5, 2021 by Broncofan 4 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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