Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos – NFL Divisional Playoff

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws in the fourth quarter of the NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Denver on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Pittsburgh Steelers center Justin Hartwig (62) blocks Denver Broncos defensive end Chris Baker (75). The Steelers won 28-10. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)Denver Broncos Favored To Win Against Pittsburgh Steelers

The Broncos couldn’t have had a better Wild Card weekend. Pittsburgh won giving Denver a shot at taking down Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. The health of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a big factor ahead of this game. Denver would be favored by a field goal, at least, even if Big Ben was healthy. It might be the last playoff run for Peyton Manning who will start for the Broncos. The matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos is scheduled for Sunday, January 17, 2016, at 4:40 p.m. ET at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

The Pittsburgh Steelers finished the year ranked third in total team offense. They averaged almost 400 yards and 26 points per game. Pittsburgh beat the Denver Broncos with a 34-27 win  during Week 15. Roethlisberger was the only quarterback the Broncos faced this season who had more than 300 yards passing. Also, wide receiver Antonio Brown torched the Denver defense for 189 yards receiving in Pittsburgh’s Dec. 20 win. With Roethlisberger and Brown getting hurt Saturday in Cincinnati, the Steelers offense certainly won’t be the same. If Roethlisberger can’t start, expect Michael Vick to be active. Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams has an injured foot and is questionable. The Steelers run game is in the hands of Fitz Toussaint and Jordan Todman. The pair did well against Cincinnati, but things will be different against Denver’s best defense.

The Denver Broncos have had injuries in the offensive line and quarterback Peton Manning’s left foot. The Broncos have played many grind out games. They were 9-3 in games decided by seven or fewer points this season. Denver used the bye week to get several defensive players ready for the next game. Linebacker Demarcus Ware and defensive backs Darian Stewart and Chris Harris are likely to play. The Denver Broncos don’t need to play a perfect game against the Steelers to win. Manning and the passing game will be exciting, but the work they do in the trenches could be the difference.

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Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, Week 17

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The Seahawks vs Cardinals finale may not be meaningless

The Seattle Seahawks lost to the St. Louis Rams at home last Sunday for the first time in 10 years which ended their 5 game winning streak. The Seahawks don’t want to go into the postseason playing like they did against the Rams, so they’ll be looking to put up a strong performance. The Arizona Cardinals back on November 15 went on the road and beat the Seattle Seahawks and haven’t lost a game since.  A Arizona Cardinals win combined with a Panthers loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week will give Arizona home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Week 17 game between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals is scheduled for Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 4:25 p.m. ET at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game will be broadcast on FOX.

The Seattle Seahawks must rely on quarterback Russell Wilson or the Seahawks aren’t moving the football. Wilson is a man completing 68.1 percent of his passes and averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt. Running back Marshawn Lynch is still very likely out, and the ground game without both he and Thomas Rawls is virtually not there. The Seahawks offense need to be able to hold off the relentless Arizona Cardinals defense long enough to give Wilson a chance to get set. The Cardinals defense picked up nine sacks on Aaron Rodgers last week and that scheme may not be changing. 15 different players have sacks for Arizona this season. If the Seahawks offensive line problems continue, it could be a long day for them.

The NFL has scheduled both the Seahawks-Cardinals and Panthers-Bucs for 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, so the Cardinals won’t know ahead of time if they have something to play for. The Arizona Cardinals is very likely to start and pull out their starters, if the Panthers start to blow out the Buccaneers. The first player the Cardinals will likely pull is quarterback Carson Palmer, and the second is wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. If those two men are out and the Seattle defense is playing up to par, the Cardinals will have a hard time scoring any more points.

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Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals, Week 16

Green+Bay+Packers+Arizona+CardinalsPackers travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals

The 12-2  Arizona Cardinals have already laid claim to the NFC West title and one more win would earn them a first round bye. A win for the 10-4 Green Bay Packers would keep their hopes for the No. 2 playoff seed alive entering the final weekend of the regular season. This should be a great matchup between two teams that could easily face one another again in the postseason. The matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals is scheduled for Sunday, December 27, 2015, at 4:25 p.m. ET at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game will be televised on FOX.

While Green Bay Packers offense isn’t as high-octane as it has been in past seasons, it has been getting the job done and the defense is playing well recently, allowing only 16.4 points per game over the team’s last six games. The Packers rank 26th in the league in average yards allowed per rush at 4.45 and have given up at least 100 yards on the ground in four straight. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers ranks No. 2 in the NFL with seven games this season with two-plus touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Cornerback Sam Shields, who likely would be assigned to cover Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday, may miss his second straight game. Shields has yet to clear the concussion protocol and is in danger of missing his second straight game.

The Arizona Cardinals remains one of the most complete teams in the NFL this season behind a high-powered offense that is ranked No. 2  in the league with 31.8 points and a  defense that is allowing only 19.2 points a game. Last Sunday against the Eagles, rookie running back David Johnson went off with 187 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 29 carries to add more to the Cardinals offensive attack. The game showed what strength Arizona has on both sides of the ball. They scored over 30 points for the fourth time in the last seven weeks and holding their opponent to under 21 points for the fourth straight game. The team that wins the ground battle will probably win this game, and that team is more likely to be Arizona.

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Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 15

ben-broncosDenver Broncos invade Heinz Field to play the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 8-5 Pittsburgh Steelers with their top tier offense is going against the 10-3 Denver Broncos with their number one defense in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers has been on a roll going 4-1 thanks to an offense that’s produced 35.2 points per game. The Denver Broncos had their first loss with Brock Osweiler at quarterback last week. Denver has the best defense and has not allowed an opponent to score 30 points or throw for 300 yards all season. The game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers is scheduled for Sunday, December 20, 2015, at 4:25 p.m. ET at Heinz Field. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) has scored at least 30 points in five straight games, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has averaged 363 passing yards during the streak.  Ben Roethlisberger, is playing as well as he ever has and has a fantastic trio of wideouts to support him. Pittsburgh’s trio has 170 catches for 2,658 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Steelers offense has the second most yards per game at 404.8, just 13 yards per game behind the Arizona Cardinals. With 404.8 yards per game, the Steelers are fifth best in passing with more than 284 yards per game and ninth best in rushing with more than 120 yards per game. The Broncos might slow Roethlisberger and his crew, but they won’t stop him.

The Denver Broncos have the best unit in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense, and they are third in rush defense. The Denver defense  Denver has silenced the best aerial attacks in the game with excellent secondary play and a strong pass rush. Denver has allowed 17.3 points per game this season. The Denver defense lead the NFL with 44 sacks and have surrendered just 22 pass plays of at least 25 yards and just nine pass plays of more than 30 yards.  The Denver offense struggled against the Raiders last week and need to work things out before their game with Pittsburgh. Last week the Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler took a safety and got sacked five times. The run game was non-existent without C.J. Anderson and the protection was poor.

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Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles, Week 15

Larry+Fitzgerald+Arizona+Cardinals+v+Philadelphia+EaglesEagles In For Big Challenge Against Cardinals Sunday Night

The Arizona Cardinals will roll into Philadelphia with the best record in the NFC. The Cardinals are 11-2 and looking to lock in a first-round bye week in the upcoming NFC Playoffs. With the last two wins over New England and Buffalo, Philadelphia is still battling for the NFC East crown. The matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles is scheduled for Sunday, December 20, 2015, at 8:30 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field. The game will be televised on NBC.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a difficult matchup in the Cardinals, the only team ranked in the top four on both offense and defense. The Eagles would like to build on their back-to-back victories and prove they can compete with the class of the NFC. Quarterback Sam Bradford returns to the lineup and the Eagles rattle of wins over the Patriots and Bills. Sam Bradford has played well recently, but he hasn’t been nearly as good as Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. The Eagles top two outside receivers Riley Cooper and Josh Huff, have combined for 41 catches and 557 yards this year. The Eagles special teams and defense has come up big in assisting their recent victories.

The Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season. Palmer ranks 12th in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, second in touchdowns, and second overall in passer rating. The Cardinals are the No. 1 offense in the league and are the only team in the NFL to have three receivers with 40-plus catches and 650-plus yards. The Cardinals have three good receivers who are very different. Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, was one of the best outside receivers in the league, and now has become one of the league’s best slot receivers. Through 12 games, Fitzgerald  has 96 catches for 1,088 yards and seven touchdowns. The Cardinals two outside receivers have been very good too. Michael Floyd has 69 catches for 652 yards and six touchdowns. Floyd at 6-3, 225 pounds, is a big-bodied, physical target. Also, John Brown is a deep threat and has 55 catches for 895 yards and five touchdowns. The Cardinals outside receivers have different styles and because of that the Eagles cornerbacks will have their hands full.

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New York Giants at Miami Dolphins, Week 14

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Giants try to snap a three-game skid against Miami Dolphins

Even though both the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants are 5-7 heading into the final quarter of the season, they are still both alive in their respective conference playoff races. The game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants is scheduled to take place on Monday, December 14, 2015, at 8:30 p.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium. The matchup will be broadcast on ESPN.

The New York Giants that don’t have a particularly good offense, have arguably the best receiver in the league right now.  Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.makes catches that just shouldn’t be humanly possible. He has five straight 100+ yard games and at least one touchdown in four of the five. So far Beckham has 78 catches, 1,154 yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns, and he leads the world in one-handed catches. The real variable though, is how bad the Giants are on defense. They’ve allowed a ton of passing touchdowns this year to seemingly every opponent.

The Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is likely going to throw a pick in this game and he’s probably throwing a touchdown as well. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry will make some plays, but the rest of the passing game is likely to be pretty dull. The Miami Dolphins defense pretty much can’t stop much on offense. They rank No. 22 in the league against the pass and No. 30 against the rush. They give up an average of 25.0 points per game, a number which includes giving up at least 33 points three times since the start of November. Miami’s pass defense is woeful at 255.6 yards per game, so it’s clear that Eli Manning is going to have another one of these games where he puts the ball in the air at least 35-40 times. That’s all good news for Beckham.

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Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles, Week 14

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The Philadelphia Eagles are flying high after defeating New England last week.

The Buffalo Bills win over Houston put them back in the AFC race, and the Philadelphia Eagles upset win over New England put them back in the NFC East race. This is making for a critical game in terms of playoff positioning in both conferences. The matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles is scheduled for Sunday, December 13, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

The Bufallo Bills have the NFL’s fourth-best rushing offense this season, averaging 140.9 yards per game. Their passing game is ranked 29th and among the worst in the NFL with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback this season. Running back LeSean McCoy ran for 112 yards last week, the third time in five games he’s had that exact total. He has also rushed for just three touchdowns this season. McCoy spent six seasons in Philadelphia before the offseason trade that sent him to Buffalo in exchange for Kiko Alonso. McCoy isn’t putting up the big numbers he may like but at least he’s having a more productive season than the man who replaced him in Philadelphia, DeMarco Murray.  The Bills could be in a good position if McCoy can continue his current hot streak. The Bills defense are 14th in the NFL against the run, allowing 104 rushing yards per game. With the way the Eagles have been running the football, it could be hit-or-miss against the Bills on Sunday afternoon. The Bills pass defense sacked opposing quarterbacks 31 times this season, but they also only have seven interceptions this season, so the Bills will be more likely to bring Bradford down than they will be picking him off. One thing Buffalo does particularly well is force fumbles. The Bills lead the NFL in 18 forced fumbles, but have recovered just seven of those loose footballs.

The Philadelphia Eagles upset the Patriots last week, using two special teams and one defensive touchdown and they did it against a team that doesn’t get beat by special teams. Najee Goode picked up a blocked punt and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. Malcolm Jenkins returned the first-ever interception of Tom Brady by an Eagles player 99-yards for a score and a 21-14 lead. Three minutes later, Darren Sproles raced 83-yards with a punt return. The Eagles managed three touchdowns on 206 yards worth of returns. The Eagles were once again shorthanded in their backfield, as Ryan Mathews remains sidelined with a concussion. Many expected Murray’s opportunities to increase with Mathews out of the lineup, but Murray’s carries went in the opposite direction against the Patriots. The leading running back for the Eagles instead was Darren Sproles, who was on the field for 35 plays and tallied 66 rushing yards on 15 attempts. Kenjon Barner also out-rushed Murray, finishing with 39 yards on nine carries. The Eagles should feel good about what they accomplished in New England, and building on that will help them knock off the Bills at home.

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Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks, Week 10

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers, top, breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Arizona Cardinals in control but Seahawks have chance to catch up

The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a bye and enter a very critical matchup against the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals, who are 6-2. Their key offensive players will have to be at the top of their games after some time off. Seattle may be just 4-4, but can win the NFC West by winning out. The matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks is scheduled for Sunday, November 15, 2015, at 8:30 p.m. ET at CenturyLink Field. The game will be televised on NBC.

The Arizona Cardinals offense is very good and may be the most well-rounded in the NFL. The Cardinals rank in the Top 10 in the rush and in the pass, and they’re doing all of this with a running back Chris Johnson and the quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer can be hot or cold though. Palmer’s history working with head coach Bruce Arians is excellent, as he now has 33 TDs against just nine picks in 14 games under center in this offense The raw numbers for Palmer are better across the board and he’s doing all of this thanks to the his  outstanding receivers headlined by future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and an oncoming Michael Floyd.

The Seattle Seahawks have had a full bye week to try to draw up schemes to allow Russell Wilson plenty of time to throw the football. This year, the lack of time Wilson has had in the pocket has forced him into more bad throws than he usually makes. This ground game looks merely above average with Marshawn Lynch this year, and Wilson has been sacked 31 times this year. The Seahawks passing game ranks just No. 28 in the league this year. The good news for Seattle is that the Arizona’s pass rushers aren’t particularly great. If the Seahawks didn’t fix their offensive line problems in their bye week, they may have some trouble against a Arizona defense, which is keeping teams down to 312.8 yards and 19.1 points per game.

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Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9

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Browns return to Cincinnati after losing three straight

The start of Week 9 for the NFL we’ve got an AFC North battle between the Browns and the Bengals. Cleveland (2-6) lost to the Cardinals in their last game, while Cincinnati (7-0) came away with a win over the Steelers in Week 8. The Bengals keep finding ways to win and remained unbeaten while increasing their lead in the AFC North with a comeback win at Pittsburgh. The Browns keep on losing, falling for a third straight time this last Sunday. The game between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals is scheduled for Thursday, November 5, 2015, at 8:25 p.m. ET at Paul Brown Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on the NFL Network.

The Cincinnati Bengals improved to 7-0 for the first time in team history thanks to another comeback drive by quarterback Andy Dalton. After throwing two interceptions early in the second half, Dalton tossed a nine-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green with just under three minutes left that gave Cincinnati its first lead of the game. The Bengals used a balance of runs and passes on their final drive to spark the comeback. The Bengals running back Giovani Bernard had a big gain out of the backfield to put the offense in position for the go-ahead score. Fourth quarter comeback drives are starting to become the norm for Dalton, who now has three game-winning drives this season.  Cincinnati opened as a 10.5-point favorite and that line looks manageable against a team that has no identity.

The Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown got roughed up again in the second half against Arizona. McCown had a great first half throwing three touchdown passes in the first 30 minutes for the first time in his career. McCown took another shot in the second half against the Cardinals and was not effective after Kevin Minter hit him. The Browns coaching staff is showing no confidence in Manziel and McCown just doesn’t have enough to carry them. The Browns are 2-6 and relying on  McCown who is a 36 year old quarterback. McCown has put up good numbers, but he also has gone 2-15 in the past two years as a starter.
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Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 8

Bengals-SteelersSteelers confirm Roethlisberger set to start against Bengals

The Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that Roethlisberger is preparing to play against the Bengals after missing four games with a sprained knee and bruised leg. The AFC North clash got a little more exciting with the expected return of Ben Roethlisberger to the Steelers lineup. The game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers is scheduled to start on Sunday, November 1, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET at Heinz Field. The game will be broadcasted on CBS.

The Pittsburgh Steelers should get a boost with their starting quarterback under center and could mount a challenge to the undefeated Bengals.  The Steelers are 4-3 overall and 2.5 games behind the Bengals for the top spot in the AFC North. The Steelers have one of the league’s best offenses, but history hasn’t been kind to Big Ben in his return to the field. In 11 seasons, Roethlisberger has come back from injury on six occasions, and the Steelers are 2-4 in those games.  Roethlisberger should not be expected to immediately perform to his top quarterback performance level prior to his injury. There may be a rust factor involved, but the Steelers are just happy to see their franchise quarterback return for this key division game. The Steelers defense has improved under coordinator Keith Butler, creating more turnovers and applying more pressure on quarterbacks. The Steelers rank seventh in the league in points per game allowed at 18.7. There have been some coverage issues involving tight ends.

The Cincinnati Bengals has a chance to do what no other team in franchise history has done, and that’s start a season 7-0. The team is coming off a bye week as one of the healthiest in the league. In their last game, they beat the Buffalo Bills 34-21 on Oct. 18 in New York. The Bengals are 3-0 against AFC opponents on the road this year. The Bengals offense are third in the NFL but also have the best balance in the conference, where they rank fourth in rushing and fourth in passing. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is having a fantastic season through six games. His completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt and passer rating are at their highest points through this many games. His two interceptions are the fewest he’s thrown across a similar span. Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert might be Andy Dalton’s favorite target right now. He will be bursting through the middle of the Pittsburgh defense, daring the Steelers to cover him.

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