When the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take on the Denver Broncos in the opening round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, altitude will no doubt be an interesting factor in the game. Another interesting issue might be attitude. The Steelers finished the regular season 12-4, but still have to travel to take on the 8-8 AFC West Champion Broncos, so they will no doubt be itching to prove they are the better team that just happened to fall victim to NFL seeding oddities associated with the divisional champion format.
Meanwhile, the Broncos are getting their motivation from the NFL experts and pundits. The ESPN panel picked the Steelers to win, the experts at CBS all see a Steelers victory, Peter Schrager of Fox Sports doubts Tebow's ability to get the job done, and now Vinnie Iyer of AOL Sporting News has also taken Pittsburgh. Here is what Iyer sees happening:
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos: The Steelers like to be aggressive with their zone-blitz schemes underDick LeBeau, but look for them to hold back a bit here. What has been working against Tebow is working to keep him in the pocket and locking up on his two outside receivers man-on-man. That leaves five to six defenders in the middle to stop the run and control shorter routes...On the few occasions Denver will trust Tebow to drop back, Polamalu will be ready to either trick him into throwing an interception or fly upfield to limit his scrambling. This is a pretty bad matchup for Tebow, because when he tries to throw to his wide receivers, he'll see them struggle to gain separation against the Steelers' physical cornerbacks.
Steelers 14, Broncos 3.
For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more in-depth coverage of this matchup, head to Broncos blog Mile High Report and Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain. For more news and notes from around the NFL, visit SB Nation's NFL news hub.