Schwartz’s Trench Report: What I’m Betting in Steelers-Broncos

Schwartz’s Trench Report: What I’m Betting in Steelers-Broncos article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: T.J. Watt, Connor McGovern

  • Former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz offers his best Week 12 NFL bet based on the battles up front.
  • He's picking a side in the Pittsburgh Steelers' road matchup against the Denver Broncos.

Despite multiple teams being on bye and three games played on Thanksgiving Day, there’s one Sunday matchup featuring a unit with a slight advantage.

Let’s dig in.

>> Odds as of 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

  • Spread: Steelers -3
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

The Broncos aren’t terribly great, but they did beat the surging Chargers last week on the road.

One reason for Denver’s success in Los Angeles was the Broncos’ run game. They rushed for 108 yards on 19 carries for an average of 5.7 yards per carry.

The Broncos are eighth in the league in rushing yards per game. But more importantly, they’re first in the NFL in yards per rushing attempt. They’re led by undrafted rookie free agent Phillip Lindsay, who is second in the league in yards per attempt (5.5) for running backs with at least 100 carries in 2018.

If the Broncos are running the ball well, you’d assume that their offensive line must be doing some work.

You’d be correct.

Denver’s O-line is fifth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards, while SB Nation’s Bill Connelly has them ranked fifth in rushing efficiency and sixth in explosive rushing. The Steelers’ defense matches up OK against the run. Their defensive line is 13th in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA and 10th in rushing efficiency. But the Broncos have a slight edge here.

The Steelers’ pass rush is tops in the NFL for sack rate, but the Broncos can match up well. Denver’s offensive line is 12th in adjusted sack rate, and with a veteran quarterback like Case Keenum in the backfield, the Broncos will be able to diagnose Pittsburgh blitz packages and get the ball out quickly.

I’m not worried about the Broncos’ O-line in this game.

Meanwhile, the Steelers’ offensive line and Broncos’ defensive line match up favorably. It’s essentially a wash. The Pittsburgh offense is 19th in rushing efficiency while the Denver defense is seventh, but the Denver defense is 20th in defending explosive rushing while the Pittsburgh offense is eighth in explosive rushing. The Steelers’ offensive line can pass protect decent, and outside of Von Miller, the Broncos don’t have much of a pass rush.

So I get a Broncos’ offensive line that can hang with the Steelers as 3-point home underdogs? And the Steelers are on the road for the second straight week? Give me the Broncos.

The Bet: Broncos +3

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