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Steelers-Broncos Preview Capsule

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The Steelers continue their chase for an AFC Wild Card berth with a second consecutive game against a first-place team when the AFC West leading Broncos come to Heinz Field on Sunday.

The game promises to be a classic battle of strength against strength as the Steelers prolific offense faces the Broncos shutdown defense. Pittsburgh has scored over 30 points in five consecutive games, a franchise record, while the Broncos are the only team in the NFL that has yet to surrender 30 points in a game.

Denver Broncos (10-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
Dec. 20, 2015
4:25 on CBS
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.

What’s on the Line: The Steelers are currently in a three-way tie with the Chiefs and Jets for the final two Wild Card spots in the AFC playoff picture. Although they are on the outside looking in, that could all change after Week 15. With a win over Denver, the Steelers would have a better "common opponents" record, which would move them above the Jets in playoff race - no matter what the Jets do. Meanwhile, the Broncos are chasing Cincinnati and New England for a first-round bye.

Key Player: Pittsburgh RB DeAngelo Williams. The Denver Broncos have the league’s top defense by a wide margin. The Broncos D ranks No. 1 in total defense and against the pass. While Denver is third in the league against the run, allowing only 84.3 yards per game on the ground, Williams’ number may be called upon to lighten the load of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Since taking over for the injured Le’Veon Bell Nov. 1 against Cincinnati, Bell has averaged 128 yards from scrimmage per game and scored five touchdowns.

Of Note: This will be the eighth matchup between the Broncos and Steelers since 2003, but only the second time in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are 2-6 in that span, with neither of those wins coming at Heinz Field.

Injury Report: Linebacker Bud Dupree (back/tailbone), safety Mike Mitchell (shoulder) and tight ends Heath Miller (ribs) and Matt Spaeth (knee) all missed practice time this week. Miller and Spaeth are expected to play, but Dupree and Mitchell are worth monitoring. Head coach Mike Tomlin said he expected Mitchell to be "uncomfortable" throughout the week as he deals with a shoulder injury on top of his pre-existing knee inflammation.

Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning (foot) returned to the practice field, although Brock Osweiler has already been tabbed as the starter against Pittsburgh. Safety Omar Bolden (hamstring) and linebacker Danny Trevathan (concussion) returned to practice in a limited fashion, while tight end Owen Daniels (knee), guard Evan Mathis (ankle), safeties Darian Stewart (hamstring) and T.J. Ward (ankle) and running back C.J. Anderson (ankle) all missed time.

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