As the NFL season has began on Wednesday and games start today! There is one game on Sunday Night Football that truly intrigues me the most.
The battle that will begin the re-birth of the Peyton Manning legacy is one of my favorite games on opening day to watch. Both the Steelers and Broncos look to continue to keep growing and make the playoffs again in 2012. Each team has their strengths, weaknesses, and question marks still coming into the first game for both franchises but I will just focus on this match-up on Sunday.
The three keys to this game might seem obvious to most, but here are the three keys I say to watch for during this game on Sunday night:
1) Peyton Manning. My first key of this game has to be the most talked about Free Agent in NFL history Peyton Manning. Manning who decided to go with the Denver Broncos instead of the San Francisco 49er will be the main key to watch Sunday night. This is the first game Manning will play in since 2011 playoff game against the New York Jets in the playoffs. Peyton Manning who has been out with neck injuries he will get back to starting an entire NFL game against the might Pittsburgh Steelers. Look for Manning to get a ton of blitz plays by the Steelers and see how he will deal with getting hit hard and hit in the back. Many believe as I do wonder how he will deal with a big hit on any play and how he lands will show if Manning will be strong in 2012. Also, keep an eye on how Manning plays under John Fox. If hit a couple times hard don't be surprised if Manning is taken out or does not play Manning like in week one.
2) Steeler Defense Injured. As we saw in January during the playoffs the loss of Ryan Clark to sickle cell was huge on defense against the Broncos. On Sunday they will lose him once again as the altitude and air in Denver will not allow his body to play on Sunday night. Continuing with injuries on defense for this Pittsburg squad will not have big time pass rusher James Harrison is also out with a knee injury. With the losses of both Clark and Harrison this night will be more significant as it will give Manning a much helpful hand against Mike Tomlin's Steeler defense. Clark and Harrison make the Steeler defense my second key to watch during this game.
3) Willis McGahee and Jonathan Dwyer. My third key to watch during this football game is both the starting running backs for each team. Both are huge for each team coming into this match-up. Jonathan Dwyer is the starting running back for the Steelers due to an injury to Rashard Mendenhall. Dwyer is huge because this is his first ever start in the NFL and must give lee-way to Big Ben so that the Steelers do not become one dimensional against a very solid Broncos defense. Now McGahee is included on this third key because he must continue running the ball well for the Broncos. In 2011 McGahee rushed for 1199 yards and had four touchdowns. McGahee must take the pressure off Manning on Sunday so that the Steelers defensive can force seven in the box at times leaving the defensive backs for Manning to start to pick on in this game Sunday. So look for McGahee and Dwyer to take some of the pressure off two good quarterbacks facing two very good defenses.
As we all will be sitting on our couches and watching the National Football League who has finally returned to us. This Steelers vs. Broncos match will be one of the most watched since it is on Sunday night football.
My prediction for this match up is a victory for the home team.
Broncos vs. Steelers: 28-20, Broncos win.
I believe the losses for the Steelers in Harrison, Mendenhall, and Clark will be just be too much to lose against a very good Broncos team even if they did not have Peyton Manning.
Where To Watch: Steelers at Broncos, 8 p.m. ET