Pittsburgh’s WR Mike Wallace is defended by Broncos free safety Quinton Carter.

Football season is here and the Denver Broncos open the season at home in prime time Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Oddly enough, the last game Pittsburgh played last year was in Denver during the Wildcard round of the playoffs. Denver won the game on the opening drive of overtime with a pass from a little known quarterback to a fellow second year receiver. You might remember hearing about it:

That was an exciting play and it was essentially the highlight of the season for Denver.

Well, a lot has changed for the Broncos since that game. Tim Tebow is gone and Peyton Manning is the new QB. The old Defensive coordinator – Denis Allen – is now the head coach to Division rival Oakland Raiders and the former coach to the Jacksonville Jaguars – Jack Del Rio – is now the new DC. We’ve some new faces on the team who look to be big factors in the season to come.

We have a tough schedule. Technically, it is the second toughest in the league (behind the NY Giants) but it is certainly the toughest opening stretch of any team. Denver’s schedule till the bye week includes its opener against Pittsburgh, at the Atlanta Falcons, home against the Houston Texans, home against the Raiders, at the New England Patriots and at the San Diego Chargers. Four of the six games are against teams that went to the playoffs last year, including league runner up New England. It is a tough schedule for any team, especially one with a new QB, new offensive and defensive playbook and new DC.

So, what can we expect in the season opener? I expect Manning’s game management to be a major factor in the game. I expect the offense to move efficiently and because of the offenses success, that the defense will be effective because they’ll be more rested and will have better field position.

My Prediction: Denver victory, 31-24.

Pittsburgh’s QB, Ben Roethlisberger, is learning a new playbook. The Steelers offensive line is already hurt and porous. Both Pittsburgh running backs are hurt and won’t start and star wideout Mike Wallace held out through camp, thus missing drills on the new playbook and conditioning, and will be off on plays.

Denver’s first pick in the draft, Derek Wolfe, had a great preseason and is going to team up with stars Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller in attacking Roethlisberger. With Wallace being off the mark and Pittsburgh running game in shambles, expect Antonio Brown to be the main target for Roethlisberger, which means he’ll be covered mostly by future Hall of Famer Champ Baily. Denver worked hard to improve its secondary during the offseason, which will help Denver’s passrush because QB’s will have to hold the ball longer.

I’m excited the season is finally here and I welcome the Steelers, once again, to Denver. Play safe, play hard, play clean.

With that, the rest of my projections:

  • Manning throws for 300+ yds, 2 TDs, 0 Ints
  • Denver rushes for a combined 250 yds, 2 TDs
  • Denver Defense has 3 sacks, 1 Int, 1 forced fumble
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