The Steelers-Broncos matchup on Sunday afternoon -- the only game on the Week 15 schedule that pits two teams with winning records -- is shaping up to be perhaps the biggest and most intriguing contest of the weekend.
Pittsburgh, now 8-5, is in the thick of a tight AFC Wild Card race and is playing like a team that nobody wants to face in January -- if the Steelers can get there. Even though they are currently on the outside of the AFC playoff picture, they control their own destiny and their path to the postseason is right in front of them. Because of tiebreakers, the Steelers can catapult into playoff position and pass the current sixth seed (the Jets) if they win out.
The way that Pittsburgh's explosive offense is clicking right now, winning its final three games wouldn't seem to be that significant of a hurdle. The Steelers have scored at least 30 points in a franchise-record five straight games, and during this stretch, rank first in total offense (494 yards per game) and second in scoring offense (35.2 points per game).
Extending their scoring binge, however, won't be easy this weekend against the NFL's most dominant defense. Denver ranks first in nearly every defensive category, allowing the fewest points, total yards, yards per rush and yards per passing play in the league. The Broncos are the only team in the NFL that hasn't allowed a single opponent to score 30 or more points this season.
The problem is that their offense is often incapable of producing enough points to win games. Because of their inconsistent play under center, the Broncos' winning formula revolves around the ability to run the ball. In each of their three losses, they have been held under 70 yards rushing. That's a potential disaster situation for Denver on Sunday: the Steelers and their sixth-ranked rush defense are seemingly well-positioned to stop the Broncos on the ground.
The experts are picking Pittsburgh to keep rolling along and beat Denver. Seven of the eight guys at CBS Sports have the Steelers, while 12 of the 13 panelists at ESPN are also going with the home team. It's a similar story for our crew here at SB Nation, too:
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