Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Sep 2012

ESPN Upset Watch: Steelers over Broncos

Debuting a new weekly feature for ESPN Insider: Upset Watch. Each week, I'll be doing game analysis on the most likely upset of the weekend according to the FO Premium picks system. We'll also include a couple paragraphs on the most likely underdog to cover. This week: An overrated Denver defense makes Pittsburgh a smart pick in Week 1, plus why 12.5 is a lot to give Miami against Houston.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 06 Sep 2012

11 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2012, 12:22am by Dragon Pie


by Paddy Pat :: Fri, 09/07/2012 - 5:35pm

I'm confused that this is an upset. The playoff game last year was a bit of an absurdity. This game is Peyton's first game with a new supporting cast against a type of 3-4 defense that he has often struggled against, and the Denver secondary is going to have its hands full with Pittsburgh's receivers. I should expect Pittsburgh to win soundly. What am I missing that the odds' makers see?

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/07/2012 - 6:20pm

Well, the game's in Denver, and the Steelers will be missing a key player (Ryan Clark, who has a medical condition that prohibits him from playing at high altitudes).

But I do also expect the Steelers to win.

by Vicious Chicken of Bristol (not verified) :: Fri, 09/07/2012 - 6:37pm

Also missing their starting RB, their OL is still suspect until proven otherwise, Harrison is probably not going to suit up, Wallace has zero reps in a new offense...plenty of reasons to doubt.

But add me to the crowd that thinks the Steelers win.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 09/07/2012 - 7:50pm

Also likely missing or limited for the Steelers are the starting NT, top backup RB, the top backup OLB. They enter the season with bailing wire already in heavy use.

by Vicious Chicken of Bristol (not verified) :: Fri, 09/07/2012 - 11:50pm

Actually, Hampton isnt really the "starter" any more. He has pretty much been supplanted by McLendon. And he is not on the injury list anyway.

Redman is probable, Worilds is probabl (I assume you were talking about him, but Carter is actually the top backup OLB). The top backup ILB is out, is that what you meant?

But the point is still valid, the injury bug sure as hell hit Pittsburgh early this season.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sat, 09/08/2012 - 3:21am

I think McLendon is the better player right now, but I still think the coaches consider Hampton the starter and would give him the majority of the NT snaps if he were healthy. Redman and Worilds are listed as probable, but if they play they will be playing through injury (of what severity the public doesn't really know). I think Worilds is solidly ahead of Carter in terms of ability and on the depth chart. The reason Carter played in the preseason and Worilds didn't is precisely because Worilds is injured. Somehow I had forgotten about Sylvester (the top ILB backup Vicious mentioned for those keeping score at home) being out, probably because he's likely missing for some time yet. Of course starting RG DeCastro and FB Johnson are on IR. 4th string RB Batch is hurt as well making them quite thin at RB. Limping into the playoffs with injury lists like this has really cost the Steelers in postseason the last two years. It doesn't bode well for them to be starting a season like this.

by theslothook :: Sat, 09/08/2012 - 3:24pm

I realize the steelers are a great team, but I think people seriously need to realize how much the colts routinely fielded a below avg roster and yet the colts still won a ton of games. Imagine this were the steelers vs the old 2009 or 2010 colts, would this feel like a big upset? I would argue this denver team is more talented overall than either the 2009, 2010, or 2011 colts- teams that are playoff and amazingly superbowl contenders regardless of the overall weakness of their roster.

by LionInAZ :: Sat, 09/08/2012 - 5:57pm

I don't think this comparison is apt. Peyton 2009-10 was a healthy QB playing with an offense most of whose players he had worked with for years. Peyton 2012 is a QB coming off a neck injury who hasn't played a game that mattered in more than a year, in an offense that he has worked with only 3 months.
A comparison with rookie Peyton might be more apt in some ways.

I don't doubt that a healthy Peyton will make the Broncos better, but it's not so clear that they'll turn into the 2010 Colts right away.

by theslothook :: Sat, 09/08/2012 - 9:49pm

Not really true though. The 2009 colts for instance, we're starting piere garcon and austin collie as their 2nd and 3rd receivers, one was a rookie the other was a 2nd year receiver who didn't play as a rookie. The next year it was a combo of blair white and jacob tammie, so again, I don't think the receivers were the key. The issue for me is manning may be the most personnel independent qb in the league, as in, he doesn't need a set of receivers to fit his skill set. I fully expect decker and thomas to have good years even if they may not be great receivers.

by Sifter :: Sun, 09/09/2012 - 5:29am

I can't read ESPN Insider, but I like the idea of this as a weekly feature. To me it's a bit more in line with the DVOA philosophy, pointing out inconsistencies between gamblers and stats, rather than just doing the easier option of 'hey what was the biggest upset last week?' and writing stuff supporting results that we already knew.

by Dragon Pie (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2012 - 12:22am

Well, I guess it wasn't meant to be. Anyhow, the line of +1 to the Broncos meant that the Steelers were considered the slightly better team according to Vegas because they give a three point home team advantage.