Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/7/12
Sunday's AFC Playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos is the type of matchup the Steelers need to start their run towards the Super Bowl.  And the only thing Pittsburgh needs to do to secure a win is play Steelers' football.

The key matchup in Sunday's tilt is between Denver's offense and Pittsburgh's defense.

Tim Tebow's inability to throw the ball has been well documented this season. And because of Denver's lack of a pass game, the Broncos and coach John Fox have heavily relied on the run, and they led the NFL in rushing this season.

The Broncos have built their offense around Tim Tebow. It's more of a college-type offense than a pro-style. And yet somehow, it worked well enough for Denver to land in the playoffs. However, in the last three games, the offense has struggled and the Broncos found themselves stumbling into the playoffs. And those three games were against three middle-of-the-pack defenses.

Expect the Steelers to stuff the box with eight men and force Tebow to put the ball in the air.

But the key is for Pittsburgh to stop the run. The secondary is the most reliable part of the defense this season, and finished the season ranked No. 1 against the pass. So it basically comes down to if the Steelers can't stop the run, then their season will end, no matter what the offense does.

Offensively, the Steelers are battling a number of injuries. Ben Roethlisberger is still battling his high ankle sprain, but will play. Maurkice Pouncey is in doubt battling the same injury and Rashard Mendenhall is on injured reserve.

However, Roethlisberger proved that he can still get the job done with a bad wheel. As far as the running game, Isaac Redman will get the bulk of the carries and has already shown that he is hard to bring down. In fact, he has looked better than Mendenhall this season and has proved to be the spark to the backfield.

So the biggest concern offensively is going to be the offensive line. If the line can keep Roethlisberger on his feet, then the offense should have no problem moving the ball and scoring. But if Roethlisberger is sacked more than twice, it could definitely throw a wrench into the Steelers' game plan.

The X factor for a Pittsburgh win is wide receiver team MVP Antonio Brown.

Brown has emerged as the Steelers' go-to guy this season, and he hasn't disappointed. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season. But the most important aspect of his game is going to be his returns.

If Brown can use his speed on special teams to setup the Steelers in good field position, chances are Roethlisberger will reward him with a shot at a deep endzone pass. And Brown has the speed to get behind the defensive backs and do damage.

While many believe the Steelers can easily leave Denver with a win, it only takes one downfall to spoil another championship run. If the defense fails, so will the team. If the offense struggles, the defense has to play near perfect. 

Pittsburgh's experience will prove key, and expect the Steelers coming ready to play.
 
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Winners and losers from 'Monday Night Football'

Each MLB team’s most important free agent

LaVar Ball refuses to thank Donald Trump in CNN interview

DeMarcus Cousins elbows Russ in head, gets ejected

WATCH: Hornets' Cody Zeller hilariously rejected by the rim

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

JR Smith shovels no look-dime to Dwayne Wade for bucket

WATCH: Mohamed Sanu hauls in tough one-handed TD

Rams lose Robert Woods for a couple weeks to shoulder injury

Bears TE Zach Miller finally at home three weeks after traumatic leg injury

Jerry Jones reportedly wants secret ballot in Goodell's contract talks

Baker Mayfield stripped of captaincy, won't start vs. WVU

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

Winners and losers from NBA's first month

MLS conference finals predictions: Who will advance to play for Cup trophy?

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

14 things we hated about 2017 college football season

Vikings' unnecessary quarterback conundrum is Mike Zimmer's doing

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

NFL Week 11 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker