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Super Bowl odds are against the Broncos

The way Las Vegas sees it, the Denver Broncos have a 1% chance of winning the Super Bowl, the longest odds in the playoff field. According to R.J. Bell of Pregame.com, a $100 bet on Denver to win it all would pay $7,200 if the Broncos were to make good on the wager.

The Broncos, who play host to Pittsburgh on Sunday, are definitely struggling. They’ve lost three in a row, and quarterback Tim Tebow has one touchdown pass and nine turnovers over that span. Their defense, however, is coming off a strong performance in a 7-3 loss to Kansas City.

Cornerback Champ Bailey shrugs off the fact that many people have already ruled out the Broncos making it out of the first round. (The Steelers are nine-point favorites.)

“I don’t think it helps or hurts you really,” Bailey said of being the underdog, “but it just kind of keeps distractions away. People aren’t hyping you up as much, patting you on the back.

“People are kind of whispering behind our back and telling us we [stink], so I’d rather live like that than the other way.”

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As for how a $100 bet would pay on other teams, it’s Packers $180, Patriots $400, Saints $500, Ravens $800, Steelers $1,200, 49ers $1,200, Giants $2,000, Falcons $4,000, Lions $5,200, Texans $5,200, and Bengals $7,000.

Hello, old friends

If Steelers-Broncos has a familiar ring to it, it’s because those clubs have met seven times in the postseason. Only two other matchups have occurred more, eight times, and those are Bears-Giants and Cowboys-Rams.

However, this is the first time Pittsburgh and Denver have met on wild-card weekend.

The franchises are 3-3 against each other in the postseason, and the winning team of that matchup has gone on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl five times. Three of those teams won it all.

The playoff games between Denver and Pittsburgh in NFL history:

YEAR ROUND WINNER RESULT
2006 AFC Champ. Pittsburgh, 34-17 Won Super Bowl XL
1998 AFC Champ. Denver, 24-21 Won Super Bowl XXXII
1990 Divisional Denver, 24-23 Lost Super Bowl XXIV
1984 Divisional Pittsburgh, 24-17 Lost AFC Championship
1978 Divisional Pittsburgh, 33-10 Won Super Bowl XIII
1977 Divisional Denver, 34-21 Lost Super Bowl XII

Bounce-back Broncos Denver recovered from its 2-5 start to win the division for the first time since 2005. The Broncos are the fifth team in NFL history to reach the postseason after a start that poor (or worse). Teams to reach the postseason after starting a season 2-5 or worse in NFL history:

TEAM YEAR START FINAL ADVANCED
Cincinnati 1970 1-6 8-6 Divisional
New Orleans 1990 2-5 8-8 Wild Card
Detroit1995 2-5 10-6 Wild Card
N.Y. Jets 2002 2-5 9-7 Divisional
Denver 2011 2-5 8-8

Stat watch

From ProFootballFocus.com:

-- Denver’s Von Miller has rushed the passer on 78% of passing plays he has been on the field. Compare that with Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has rushed on 60% of passing plays.

-- Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark, who won’t play because of health issues with the altitude, has missed just 11 snaps all season.

--Denver’s Brodrick Bunkley had 32 defensive stops this season -- tackles that resulted in an offensive failure, such as one on fourth down that prevented a first -- and only four NFL defensive tackles had more.

Another view

Former All-Pro safety John Lynch of Fox: “There’s an old saying that you’ve got to earn the right to rush the passer. If Denver does that by stopping the run on first and second, they’re tough to deal with. There’s Elvis Dumervil, and I don’t care if there’s a cast on Von Miller’s hand or not, Von’s a special player.”

By the numbers

How teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for turnover differential, which is for the season (league rank in parentheses):

STEELERS BRONCOS
Points scored 20.3 (21) 19.3 (25)
Points allowed 14.2 (1) 24.4 (24)
Pass offense 253.4 (10) 152.1 (31)
Rush offense 118.9 (14) 164.5 (1)
Pass defense 171.9 (1) 231.5 (18)
Rush defense 99.8 (8) 126.3 (22)
Sacks 35 (17) 41 (10)
Penalties 6.3 (16) 6.3 (17)
Turnovers -13 (29) -12 (27)

Farmer’s pick How many times have we heard that Ben Roethlisberger is limping around and has no mobility -- and then he comes out and plays one of his best games. There won’t be a lot of scoring in this one, but if the Steelers can protect the ball they’ll win.

STEELERS 17, BRONCOS 13


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