This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers in this week 16 matchup. The TPS is sponsored by Gryffin the King!
What: Indianapolis Colts 10-4 at Pittsburgh Steelers 11-3
Where: Heinz Field Pittsburgh, PA
When: 1pm ET Sunday December 27th 2020
Weather: 37 degrees and mostly cloudy at kickoff
Line: Colts -1.5 O/U 44.5
Last Week: The Colts beat division rival Houston 27-20 while the Steelers dropped their third straight game losing in Cincinnati 27-17.
TV: CBS Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analysis), Tracy Wolfson (field reporter)
TV Coverage in Your Area: Check the506.com.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley and Missi Matthews on the sidelines.
Head Official: Alex Kemp. He is in his third season as a head official. This is the first time he will officiate a game with the Steelers.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT:LB Marcus Allen (Stinger) – Questionable
LB Ulysees Gilbert III (Ankle) – Out, placed in IR on 12/25, LB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (Shoulder) – Questionable
K Chris Boswell (Groin) – Questionable, RB Anthony McFarland (Illness) – Questionable IND: T Anthony Costanzo (Knee/Ankle) – Questionable (UPDATE) He has been ruled OUT. WR Marcus Johnson (Quadriceps) – Out, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (Ankle) – Questionable
T Braden Smith (NIR) – Out
Injury Notes: T.J. Watt will be facing a backup tackle across from his with Smith out… Alex Highsmith will be facing a far less than 100% Costanzo on his side so we should expect pressure from both men on a consistent basis… Vince Williams returns this week but we don’t know how bad is Covid-19 stay was. With Allen questionable and Gilbert out, the inside backers are once again going to be ridiculously thin.
2020 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 13th IND 8th Passing Offense: PIT 17th IND 9th Rushing Offense: PIT 31st IND 15th
Total Defense: PIT 2nd IND 11th Passing Defense: PIT 2nd IND 17th Rushing Defense: PIT 8th IND 5th
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 11-3, Cleveland 10-4, Baltimore 9-5, Cincinnati 3-10-1
This Week in the AFC North: NY Giants @ Baltimore 1pm, Cleveland @ NY Jets 1pm, Cincinnati @ Houston 1pm
What You Need to Know: For the second straight season the Steelers have lost three in a row in December… T.J. Watt joined Reggie White and Derrick Thomas as the only players since 1982 (when sacks became official) to have 13 or more sacks in three of their first four seasons… Pittsburgh is 8-0 when they win the coin toss and 3-3 when they lose it… The Steelers are 7-0 when they outrush their opponent… Mike Tomlin is 80-31 all-time at Heinz Field.
Indianapolis Colts Names to Know: QB Philip Rivers, WR T.Y. Hilton, RB Jonathan Taylor, LB Darius Leonard, DT DeForest Buckner, WR Michael Pittman, Jr., TE Mo Alie-Cox, DE Justin Houston
What’s at Stake: The Colts are tied with the Tennessee Titans atop the AFC South with 10-4 records. They split their season series each winning on the other’s home field. Tennessee currently holds a one game advantage in division and conference record so this becomes a bigger game than usual for the Colts. For the Steelers, a win gives them a division title and the opportunity to rest players next week. A loss means that week 17 in Cleveland is for the Division title unless Cleveland loses Sunday to the Jets.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 25-6 and 15-2 in Pittsburgh
Last Meeting: November 2019 in Pittsburgh, Steelers 26 Colts 24
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on this game.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Ben Has to Get Right. No use in steering away from the obvious. Big Ben is coming off one of his worst performances in his career. Typically, he bounces back well. The problem however is that he may need to do a lot of the ‘bouncing back’ on his own. With an under-achieving offensive line facing a really good Colts’ defense, Roethlisberger is going to have to take on a lot himself. Now if, and I stress “if,” the ground game can get going then that would be a tremendous bit of support to the veteran QB. Aside from those things, he has to make better reads and has to make better throws. It really is that simple and no one knows this better than he does. Should he start the way he did Monday night, I don’t think it’s unfair to sit him for a series. He needs to a sense of urgency and maybe that would give it to him.
2. Sustain Drives. I don’t care how the Steelers’ offense does it but they have to find a way to give their defense a break. There is not a doubt in my mind that they wore down in the second half Monday night in large part due to the Offense’s turnovers and three and outs. Part of the greatness of past Steelers’ defenses was that they knew they would get time in games to actually catch their breath and right now that isn’t happening. What this does NOT mean is running the ball on second and long to keep the clock running. That is defeatist in its’ mentality. Running, passing… It doesn’t matter. Get the defense, which already thin, a break.
3. Make a Damn Play Special Teams! When your offense is struggling and your defense is hanging on by a thread then you have to get contributions from your third phase, Special Teams. Ray Ray McCloud needs to get some big returns whether they are on punt or kickoff returns he needs to get this offense a shorter field. He must also be judicious in when to return kicks and when to call for fair catches as well. I also see very little reason not to attempt a trick play somewhere in this game too. The team is in the playoffs, we know this, but if there is an opportunity to get a first down or more then take it. Don’t do it just to “do it” though. Make it purposeful and when no one expects it. Whether a trick play happens or not I don’t care. Just get something from this unit that is more than what we’ve seen to this point.
Prediction: If I’m nothing else, I’m a realist. I haven’t liked what I’ve see from this offense in at least a month and it just doesn’t seem to be getting any better. The Colts are very solid football team. They have a balanced offense and a fast, opportunistic defense. I really thought Monday night would have been the catalyst to get this team going but it wasn’t. Hard to believe this could very well be the last home game of 2020 considering we once thought home-field advantage was so promising. Let’s just say I don’t have a very good feeling about this week.
Colts 24 Steelers 17
Season Prediction Record: 11-3