Posted Fri Nov 6th by Monty
We know some of you are fans of Football Outsiders, as are we, so we’ll be taking a look at the smarter stats behind the Broncos‘ opponent each week to gain some perspective on what to expect — an Outsider’s Perspective.
Insanely quick DVOA 101: Recall that on offense and special teams, the higher the percentage the better. On defense, the lower (more negative) the percentage the better.
Steelers Rush Offense: -0.3% (15th)
Broncos Rush Defense: -25.1% (1st)
Despite having their worst performance of the season, the Broncos improved from 2nd to 1st in the league rush defense DVOA. The turnaround of this rush defense has truly been remarkable, and even after an “off week,” the Broncos are tops in the league. They’ll need to continue that pace as they face the Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall, who is averaging over 5 yards per carry and has won the starting role over RB Willie Parker.
Steelers Pass Offense: 50.5% (4th)
Broncos Pass Defense: -11.1% (6th)
Against Baltimore, the Broncos’ pass rush got to Joe Flacco but didn’t get him down. Against Pittsburgh they’ll need to finish the deed, and Ben Roethlisberger is even harder to take down. For the first time all season, injuries to the Broncos defense might play a role. Starting DE Ryan McBean was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, while DBs Josh Barrett, Jack Williams and David Bruton were also listed on the Thursday’s injury report.
Broncos Rush Offense: -2.3% (18th)
Steelers Rush Defense: -14.0% (10th)
Little known fact: RB Knowshon Moreno leads the league in productive carries, i.e. fewest percentage of rushes for negative yardage (5.5% on 6 of 109 carries). He hasn’t been breaking long runs, though, which partially explains the Broncos’ relatively low rushing ranking this season.
Broncos Pass Offense: 42.9% (7th)
Steelers Pass Defense: 9.4% (16th)
Sunday was a humbling experience for the Broncos’ passing attack, and we’re sure Dick LeBeau will try to mirror the success Baltimore had with aggressive blitzing schemes. Every facet of Denver’s passing game could have played better last week — QB Kyle Orton needs to improve his pocket presence, the O-Line needs to bounce back and show last week was just a fluke for one of the league’s best units, and the WR’s need to do Orton more favors (particularly Brandon Marshall, who was targeted early and often, had a big inexcusable drop on third down, and had far too happy feet for our tastes. Get upfield Brandon!).
Steelers Special Teams: -6.8% (31st)
Broncos Special Teams: -5.8% (28th)
Both the Broncos and Steelers have allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the past two games. The fact that the Broncos still rank this low despite Eddie Royal‘s phenomenal Monday Night three weeks ago tells you all you need to know about Denver’s special teams.