The Pittsburgh Steelers spend the first of their three holiday games in Indianapolis for a Thanksgiving showdown with the Colts. I’m giving you everything you need to know heading into this crucial AFC match-up for both teams.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, IN
When: Thursday November 24th 2016 825pm ET Kickoff
Weather: Perfect. It’s indoors!
Line: Steelers -9
TV: NBC Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya on the sidelines
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Key Injuries: PIT: DeAngelo Williams (knee), Xavier Grimble (Quad), Shamarko Thomas (groin), Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot) IND: OUT Andrew Luck (concussion), Clayton Geathers (concussion)
2016 NFL Ranks: Colts’ Offense: Overall 14th Rushing 25th Passing 13th . Colts‘ Defense: Overall 30th Rushing 24th Passing 30th … Steelers’ Offense: Overall 12th Rushing 24th Passing 7th . Steelers’ Defense: Overall 21st Rushing 8th Passing 24th
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 5-5, Pittsburgh 5-5, Cincinnati 3-6-1, Cleveland 0-11
What You Need to Know: Ben Roethlisberger is now 20-2 against Cleveland… He has as many wins as any Cleveland QB since First Energy Stadium opened…
What’s at Stake: The Steelers need to put the ball in Baltimore’s court as the Ravens host the Bengals Sunday. A Steelers’ win puts the pressure on the Ravens to keep pace in the AFC North.
All-Time Series: Steelers Lead 16-6 and they lead in Indianapolis 5-4
Series Highs: Passing: PIT Ben Roethlisberger 522 yards 2014 IND Andrew Luck 400 yards 2014 Rushing: PIT Barry Foster 179 yards 1994, IND Edgerrin James 124 yards 2005 Receiving: PIT Louis Lipps 154 yards 1985 IND T.Y. Hilton 155 yards 2014
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Spread and throw at Will. Last week, the Steelers rightfully came out and pounded Le’Veon Bell into the Browns at will. They were 31st in the league against the run and with the high winds, it was the smart play. This week, the Colts enter as the 31st worst team in the NFL against the pass and they may be without one half of their secondary. Todd Haley needs to go three and four-wide while keeping Bell in the backfield. His heavy reliance on multiple tight end sets has a time and place and this is neither the time nor the place. Ben Roethlisberger has too many weapons at his disposal to not attack this defense through the air.
Punish and Punish Some More. The Steelers’ Defense recorded eight sacks last week. This week, they play the only other offensive line that has given up more sacks than Cleveland. Keith Butler was relentless with his blitzing last Sunday against a young and old quarterback but this week he might have to be a little more judicious with the Colts. Yes, Scott Tolzien is making his third career start but the talent around him is better than what the Browns had. That said, I think you’ll see plenty of five-man rushes but they’ll be of the zone variety where guys will be coming from everywhere. Regardless, he needs keep steady pressure on Tolzien.
Tomlin Needs to be “Cautiously Aggressive.” In the loss to Dallas, I thought Tomlin went to the well too often on his two-point conversion trys and then last week I thought his gambles at the end of the half were uncalled for. I don’t think people realize just how close that game could have been had the Browns’ penalties not bailed us out. 6-0 would have been significantly different than 14-0. Don’t get me wrong, I like Tomlin’s aggressiveness, but it has to be done wisely and with caution. This team isn’t good enough to keep allowing teams to stay in games.
I’ll get right to it… There is no way Mike Tomlin’s team can afford to lose against a Colts’team that is this banged up and especially without Andrew Luck. I expect the Colts to play hard and keep this game closer than expected simply because it’s on national TV and they don’t want to be embarrassed. That said, Ben Roethlisberger needs to get rolling early and the defense needs to pick up where it left off.
Steelers 32 Colts 16