After last week’s thrilling comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers, there is belief again in the Denver Broncos.
The eternal optimists believe Vance Joseph’s team can run the table, while many others think that the playoffs are still a possibility.
We rounded up Broncos Europe TV’s Michael McQuaid and Colum Cronin — not known for being eternal optimists — to weigh in on this week’s must-win game against our familiar foes from Pittsburgh.
Does the 2018 season rest on this game?
Michael: There is no doubt. Yes, the Broncos can defeat the likes of the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Cleveland Browns, but if they cannot defeat the Steelers with home advantage, then there is no point in this team being in the playoffs.
The Broncos have to believe that they can win this game. If they win this game, they are right in the AFC Wildcard picture. If they do not win this game, it will be too big of an ask for them.
Colum: Yes. A team that seemed dead and buried a couple of weeks ago, players clearly frustrated and venting in the locker room post game, Demaryius Thomas revealing some of the inner secrets of the franchise; all that negativity dissipated with the win over the Chargers.
A win against the Steelers and the focus will be on a potential playoff spot; lose and all the renewed optimism and energy vanishes.Embed from Getty Images
What are the key matchups for you?
Colum: Chris Harris Jr vs Antonio Brown
CHJ has a point to prove against Brown following a horrific showing — easily his worst game in a Broncos uniform — in a regular season game in 2015. He’s waited three years for redemption and he’ll need to limit Brown on Sunday.
Michael: Von Miller against Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has really played well in the last few games, he has scored 17 touchdowns in the last six games. Can Von Miller get to him?
After a good performance last week, you would expect Von to come out of his shell and really attack Ben early to ensure that the Steelers do not get any grip on this game. They will heavily rely on running back James Conner in Sunday’s matchup.
How can the Broncos defeat the Steelers?
Unleash Phillip Lindsay. Create situations that allow the team to put the ball in his hands and then watch him make magic happen.
Michael: It’s really easy. The Broncos can defeat the Steelers.
All they have to do is believe in the team and the players that they have. Both sides of the ball need to be lights out. Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Derek Wolfe and the rest of the Broncos defense must play every snap as if it is their last in football.
On the other side of the ball, we need to see the same (or better) performance from Phillip Lindsay after his sublime game against the Chargers last week, while allowing fellow running back Royce Freeman into the game.
Case Keenum must get the ball moving, and fast. The Broncos have a chance. Their biggest enemy? Themselves.Embed from Getty Images
How do the Broncos stop Big Ben?
Colum: Don’t poke the bear! Von Miller and Bradley Chubb need to get to Roethlisberger but leave the trash talk and gloating until after the game. The Broncos are fortunate to have two separate wrecking machines, and if both are in the mood on Sunday then Big Ben will face a dual threat unlike anything he’ll have faced thus far this season.
They rattled Rivers last week and for the Broncos to overcome the odds again on Sunday they need more of the same.
Michael: Broncos win, 31-27.
Colum: Broncos grind down the Steelers and win a tough game 24-21.