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Steelers vs. Broncos Gambling Preview/Prediction

NFL: Pittsburgh at Denver

AFC powers collide in what figures to be one of the better Monday night games of ‘09.

The 5-2 Pittsburgh Steelers visit the 6-1 Denver Broncos, and in a rare line situation, oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com have installed the road team with the lesser record as the three-point favorite.

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That hasn’t stopped bettors from embracing this favorite, as they are backing Pittsburgh at an 85%+ rate according to the BETTING TRENDS page. Kickoff is set for 8:35 PM ET, and the usual array of Monday night wagering options will be available.

Defending champion Pittsburgh comes off its bye week at 5-2, looking to extend a run of 8-3 ATS by underdogs in its L11 post-bye week games. The Steelers have won four in a row, but still own just a 2-5 ATS mark, so could be considered underachieving by some. They are 0-3 ATS on the road and have now dropped five straight games against the number away from home.

It won’t be easy to stop that skid, as Denver is a perfect 3-0 SU & ATS at home, having outscored opponents by a 21.3-11.0 margin. The Broncos come off their first loss though, against another AFC North foe, the Ravens. In this H2H series, dogs have covered four straight and six of the L7 meetings have gone OVER.

The stellar play of Kyle Orton has made the breakup of Jay Cutler and Denver look like one of those month-long high school flings and not some heavily invested marriage. And while the permanently scowled Cutler deals with a three-horse race in the NFC North, Orton has his team sitting pretty atop the AFC West with room to spare.

Now that all the preseason predictions of a 5-11 season have faded into the thin Rocky air, the Broncos have the inside track to locking down a division crown and possibly a first-round bye in the postseason. That’s because Orton has kept it simple in a 6-1 start, and his nine touchdowns and one interception reflect it.

Denver’s winning ways have also kept Brandon Marshall quiet and happy after displaying some antics in the preseason to try to orchestrate away out of town. Instead, fans have witnessed some game-altering performances in the wins over Dallas and New England, with some huge touchdown catches.

One would also be remiss not to mention the exploits of linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who has already posted 10 sacks.

Rested and ready after a well-deserved bye, Pittsburgh is coming off a tremendous high after getting past previously undefeated Minnesota. Ben Roethlisberger may be putting up some crazy passing stats in 2009, but it was heroic defensive efforts by LaMarr Woodley and Keyaron Fox that did the Vikings in.

The current four-game win streak has witnessed the Steelers get their vaunted running game back on track, although no other back has scored besides Rashard Mendenhall. While head coach Mike Tomlin has received the usual contributions from Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, tight end Heath Miller has gotten off to one of the best years of his five-year career, snatching 40 balls for 353 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively, the extra week off can only help the recently-healed Troy Polamalu, who made six tackles and had two passes defended against Minnesota after recording only two stops the previous week versus Cleveland. There has also been no Super Bowl hangover from linebacker James Harrison, who is second on the team in tackles (41) and tops in sacks with eight.

PREDICTION

What might’ve looked like a decent game on the Monday Night schedule back in August jumps off the page now. Pittsburgh has more talent, but Denver has already dispatched superior teams in its building so far. It could happen again.

DENVER 20, PITTSBURGH 19

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