The Denver Broncos usher in a new era Sunday when Peyton Manning leads his team against the Pittsburgh Steelers
Broncos coach John Fox has had a tough time winning home openers but Manning brings a 7-1 record to this spot since 2003
Denver is listed as a small favorite with sportsbooks but throughout early Sunday NFL betting, it didn’t look as if there would be enough demand to move these odds to -3, which is a key number. The current NFL odds at Pinnacle Sports show Denver -1 with a total of 45.5 points.
Peyton Manning looked good during preseason and is expected to have an immediate impact on this offense. His ability to read plays, pick up blitzes and make adjustments is legendary and in Manning’s past four openers he averaged 320 passing yards per game.
Pittsburgh’s pass D ranked first overall last season and didn’t allow a single 300-plus performance through its first 16 games but they were exposed in Round 1 of the playoffs at this very field. Tim Tebow is long gone, giving the Steelers freedom to gameplan for a more conventional attack but they are still without all-pro safety Ryan Clark, who is unable to play at high altitude. In both zone and man pressure, Clark holds his cards close to the vest with top DBs and against Manning, it’s a weapon the Steelers could surely use.
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On the other side of the ball, Big Ben Roethlisberger is no slouch either but the first question for 2012 is whether Pittsburgh’s O-line can do a better job in pass protection. Preseason injuries to Ben, members of his O-line and the running back committee leave more questions than answers for Week 1 betting and until this group shows it can execute, we’ll stick with the short favorite every time.
NFL Picks: Playoff revenge this soon has not panned out well since realignment (3-5 SU) and Week 1 home favorites hosting a foe that finished the previous season .500 or better straight-up are 38-18 ATS (69-percent). Manning has been a sure-fire performer under the lights his entire career and in his Broncos debut, we’re backing the home side.
Take the Broncos