With the start of Wild Card weekend only a couple days away, experts have already started their predictions for the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants and the Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints.
Even if you aren't in a fantasy football playoff league, there is still some useful info to be looked at regarding the matchups. Below is part 2 of 4 of a series that will analyze all 4 games (AFC and NFC). Make sure to check out my NFC matchups on Friday. And make sure to check out our NFL Playoff Fantasy Football Rankings for all the info you need heading into the weekend.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos
Usually there is one playoff game a year where the home team is a HUGE underdog. Last year, it was supposed to be the Seahawks playing at home against the Saints. But as home-field advantage proved, sometimes the underdog comes out on top (Sorry Kurt). Tim Tebow's magic may have paid off for the Broncos (8-8) earlier in the season. But after losing the last three games and basically sliding in ass backwards to the AFC West title because of a crumbling Chargers and Raiders team, that Tebow magic may be all but forgotten. The Steelers' 12-4 record showed once again just how strong the AFC really is. If Tebow can't win, or at least keep the game close, John Elway is going to backtrack on his backing of the quarterback pretty quickly.
I expect A LOT of Isaac Redman. With Ben Roethlisberger dealing with a high-ankle sprain and the Broncos Defense giving up 19.3 fantasy points a game to running backs, Redman should see 20+ carries. Usually in this situation, I'd like Big Ben. But after his dismal performance against the Browns in Week 17, I may have to recommend him as a high-end QB2 only. With that said, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown could suffer a bit if Big Ben has trouble moving around in the pocket. Still, I can see both options being decent WR2s. As usual, I don't recommend Heath Miller at all. While he did improve on his numbers (51/631) he'll continue to act as the team's blocking tight end to give Roethlisberger more time to stay upright with his injury.
I know many think "It's just one game. Tebow shouldn't be judged by just one game." But throwing for 60 yards and an interception while also losing a fumble against the Chiefs, Tebow's time as the starter hinges greatly on this game. He relies too much on his legs and simply couldn't better himself in the passing game, with his passing numbers decreasing from Week 14 on. With the Steelers ultimately able to take Tebow out, I am afraid the Broncos rushing offense isn't going to help matters. The Steelers ranked No. 3 in fantasy points given up to running backs with a mere 14.8. I see Willis McGahee as nothing more than a low-end RB2. As for the Broncos' receivers, Demaryius Thomas is the only guy I would even look at. And given the fact that the Steelers ranked No. 1 against fantasy receivers, I think it's going to be a long day for Denver's offense as a whole.
Final Score: 31-10
Unlike other games, weather won't be a factor. Living in Pennsylvania, it's just as cold here as it will be in Denver on Sunday. Even playing at home, I really don't see how the Broncos can pull out an upset against such a strong defense. And despite Big Ben being at less than 100 percent, he should have enough time to make the Steelers' passing game look adequate. Combine that with Redman, the Broncos Defense simply won't be able to stop them. If the Broncos do lose and lose by a lot, expect Tim Tebow's name to be a hot topic all next week.