The 6-5 Indianapolis Colts travel to Pittsburgh to take on the 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers tonight, in a game that has major playoff implications for both teams. The Steelers have a 3-4 conference record and currently have the 8th seed in the AFC, two spots out from a spot needed to qualify for post season play.
The Steelers lead this series against the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts with a record of 15-6. The Steelers also hold a 5-0 record in post season meetings between the two franchises, with the last game going to the Steelers 21-18 in the 2005 playoffs.
The Steelers and the Colts met last October 26th at Heinz Field, a game in which the Steelers won 51-34. In the win, Ben Roethlisberger threw for a franchise record 522 yards and 6 touchdown passes. Antonio Brown caught 10 balls for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Heath Miller hauled in 7 passes for 112 yards and touchdown. Martavis Bryant chipped in with 5 receptions for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns. Willie Gay added a defensive score, when he returned an interception for a touchdown, one of the three pick sixes he had on the season.
When the Steelers offense is on the field, they will be matched up against a Colts defense that is ranked 26th overall, 24 against the run and 27th against the pass. Ben Roethlisberger will look to have the same type of success that he had last October, and minus LeVeon Bell, he will have the same weapons to do it with. Deangelo Williams should see plenty of carries early on as the Steelers will look to establish the running game early on, against a run defense that has given up 4.3 yards per carry over their last three games.
Antonio Brown should expect to have another big game as the Colts best cover man, Vontae Davis, got abused repeatedly by Brown during their last matchup. When Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton are on the field with Brown, in the three wide set, don’t look for any of them to be double-teamed much by Colts defenders, in order to keep one of them from breaking open deep behind the secondary.
On defense, the Steelers will be facing 40 year old Matt Hasselbeck, who has done a solid job in relief of Andrew Luck. In his four starts, Hasselbeck has completed 64.7 percent of his passes and has thrown 7 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. He is 4-0 in his starts with a 94.4 quarterback rating. Matt Hasselbeck doesn’t quite have the arm he used to and relies on timing routes more than ever before. He is still mobile enough to move around to find the open man. Hasselbeck will be throwing to wr’s Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton, who will keep the Steelers secondary busy. The Steelers DB’s can’t afford to miss any tackles with these two. Hilton is the big play guy, similar to Antonio Brown, while Moncrief is more of the possession receiver. Together, they have combined for 103 receptions and 10 touchdowns.
The Colts run game is led by Frank Gore, who has all four of the Colts rushing touchdowns this season. Gore has yet to record a 100 yard rushing for the Colts, who haven’t had a running back reach that milestone in almost three years. If the Steelers can wrap up and tackle, it won’t happen tonight either.
If the secondary can stabilize itself tonight, and the defense can get off the field after third downs, the Steelers should win this one going away. The Colts secondary is no match for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers receivers, especially if Deangelo Williams continues with his Le’Veon Bell impersonation, so putting points on the board should not be an issue for the Steelers.
Steelers 42-Colts 24