The Denver Broncos host the Pittsburgh Steelers next weekend in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs, and the line on the game is somewhat surprising: Denver’s favored by 6.5.
That seems high for a variety of reasons. One reason it could be high? Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered a shoulder injury in the 4th quarter of the Steelers improbable win against the Bengals. His status is unclear. He did play on the game-winning drive, but was limited to short passes (until one long incompletion changed the game). Obviously his health is paramount.
Also, Pittsburgh was without running back DeAngelo Williams, and his status is enormous: He’s a tremendous blocking running back, and against Denver’s pass rusher, he’ll be needed.
Outside of their health, I think the storyline this week is simple: Peyton Manning is 0-5 when starting playoff games when the temperature is 40 degrees or less.
We’ve written about this in the past, and it appears that right now, temperates will likely be sub-40 degrees at kickoff (4:40 pm EST Sunday). Given Manning’s increasingly weak arm, his injuries this year, and his neck surgeries it is difficult to deny that the temperature is going to be a huge factor. Denver caught a break that this isn’t the Saturday night game.
As QB of the Broncos, Manning is only 2-2 at home in the playoffs, losing to the Ravens in 2013, beating the Chargers and Patriots in 2014, and losing to the Colts in 2015.