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TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 1: Denver Broncos At Pittsburgh Steelers

Broncos
Steelers
Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos signals against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on August 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos signals against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on August 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner Peyton Manning gets a chance to write a new chapter in his career with the Broncos. While he must show he can take the abuse that comes with playing the position, he is a huge upgrade for the Broncos over Tim Tebow.
Ben Roethlisberger is one of the most unique quarterbacks in the league. He has the size and strength to shake off a big hit, slide to the outside and buy time and then make a big play.
Offense
The Broncos have some workable tools on offense. Hard-working Willis McGahee, can punish a defense when he lowers his shoulder. Demaryius Thomas is the big-play receiver while Eric Decker can make the possession catch.
Winner The Steelers want to run the ball with Rashard Mendenhall, but he won’t be back from his torn ACL until midseason. Mike Wallace can break the long one at any time while Antonio Brown knows how to get open.
Defense
Elvis Dumervil can pressure the quarterback from the defensive end slot and Von Miller can do the same. Champ Bailey is still one of the best cover men in the league.
Winner You can count on the Steelers to have one of the best defensive units in the league under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Steelers have Troy Polamalu to run the secondary and underrated Ziggy Hood on the defensive line.
Special Teams
Matt Prater was the best kickoff man in the league last year, but he gets a boost because he kicks in Denver. His field goal kicking was ordinary and so was the Broncos’ return game.
Winner The Steelers got a big boost from Antonio Brown in the return game as he averaged 27.3 yards per kickoff return and 10.3 yards per punt return. Shaun Suisham has a strong leg for kickoffs but struggles on field goals.

The Winner Is

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers
Winner Steelers
3 out of 4

Circumstances have changed dramatically since the Steelers’ season ended in Denver in the wild-card playoff game, but this game is still important. The Steelers want revenge while the Broncos want to see that Manning can play a regular-season game without getting hurt.

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