The Denver Broncos face a familiar pattern when they play Pittsburgh on Sunday – another playoff-bound team on a hot streak with a chance to throw a wrench into their momentum.
The Steelers are 7-2-1 and on a six-game winning streak thanks to a fourth-quarter comeback at Jacksonville last week. This is the third straight game Denver has faced a team on an extended winning streak, and it has played well in the two previous games.
The Broncos (4-6) nearly knocked off Houston on Nov. 4 but Brandon McManus pushed a potential game-winning field goal wide on the last play. He atoned for it last week, nailing a 34-yarder as time expired to end the Los Angeles Chargers’ six-game streak.
Sunday’s game will be the sixth time in the last eight games the Broncos have played a team in a strong playoff position.
“We’ve been in some tough games versus some really, really tough and physical opponents,” head coach Vance Joseph said. “Playing Pittsburgh is going to be a tough out obviously for our football team, but no one is flinching. I think we kind of enjoy it now. We’re really battle-tested and we’ve had some close calls and haven’t finished. We finally finished one last week, so we’ll see what happens on Sunday. This team won’t flinch—I can guarantee you that.”
Denver has had a few weeks to adjust to the trade of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and should have a healthy group against Pittsburgh. DaeSean Hamilton (knee) practiced in full Friday and is ready to go and the veteran of the unit, Emmanuel Sanders, will have extra motivation going against his former team.
“This week it looked like Emmanuel. He works hard, he’s engaged and he’s excited about playing,” Joseph said. “It’s a big game for him because it’s his former team and he wants to play well. That’s his role each week for us. He has to make big plays for us to win games, and he understands that. It’s no different for him on Sunday.”
ROBY CLOSE TO RETURNING: Cornerback Bradley Roby passed through the concussion protocol and practiced with the team Friday. Joseph said he should be good to go Sunday.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) has been ruled out and will miss his third straight game. Safety Dymonte Thomas (ankle) will also miss Sunday’s game.