The stars have aligned. That's not favorable for Big Ben and the Steelers.
Few outside the realm of the Rocky Mountains are giving Tim Tebow and his Broncoroos a legitimate opportunity to subdue the Black & Gold in Sunday's opening round of the NFL playoffs.
So why is this column going against the grain and tabbing Denver to prevail Sunday afternoon in the Mile High city?
Healthy or no, Pittsburgh has proven a struggling entity away from Heinz Field all season. Granted, Mike Tomlin's club has found a way to survive the likes of Cleveland, Indianapolis and Kansas City.
But we envision a Steelers' meltdown Sunday, despite the fact Denver, at 8-8, appears to be living a lie. Thus, expect no Pittsburgh rematch against either Baltimore or New England.
The Bengals, meanwhile, led Houston's Texans virtually wire to wire before yielding a last-minute regular season touchdown at Paul Brown Stadium, resulting in a 20-19 Houston victory.
Expect the Texans to play much better at Reliant Stadium this afternoon and eliminate a second AFC North qualifier.
In the NFC, tonight's Lions-Saints' matchup has off the chart entertainment value. We see Detroit posing a major threat to Drew Brees and company before the home team pulls one out.
Sunday's Falcons-Giants encounter is another potential dandy before Eli Manning takes control in the second half.
This column capped an up-and-down regular season with a 12-4 week 17 campaign - good for postseason entry.
CINCINNATI AT HOUSTON. Both teams here were feel-good stories of the 2011 season. Obviously, only one can prevail today and we're going with the home squad in a down to the wire affair. Texans, 26-23.
DETROIT AT NEW ORLEANS. Lions have come too far to pull up lame tonight in the Big Easy. Having said that, Brees and company appear headed for a showdown with Green Bay. Saints, 30-24.
ATLANTA AT NEW YORK GIANTS. G-men have been nothing short of unpredictable all season but figure to advance via the home field edge. Giants, 23-17.
PITTSBURGH AT DENVER. Hard to imagine going against grain and tabbing a Tebow win, but Steelers' offense has been suspect various Sundays. Black & Gold can also use multiple injury scenarios in aftermath of postgame mortem. The weekend's Upset Special. Broncos, 17-13.
LAST WEEK (12-4). SEASON (162-93). UPSET SPECIALS (3-14).
Gibson may be reached at email@example.com