Roethlisberger, Steelers Ready To Expose Colts In Primetime Sunday Night Matchup
The Indianapolis Colts lead the AFC South in part because of the strong play of veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and in part because the division has been so terrible this season. Indianapolis controls its own destiny in the AFC South right now but this week they will play one of their two remaining games against teams from outside of their division and it could very well be their toughest remaining test. The Colts visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football and while they may need a win to keep pace with the Houston Texans at the top of their division their opponent is in a much more desperate situation and simply can’t afford to lose this game.
Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday December 6, 2015 – 8:30 PM ET
NFL Betting Line: Pittsburgh -6.5
What The Colts Will Have To Do To Win
Hasselbeck has been solid in place of the injured Andrew Luck and he will need to have another big game this week. Hasselbeck has thrown for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns compared to two interceptions and he will need to be able to move the ball effectively against the Steelers’ defense because right now the Colts’ running game just hasn’t been nearly effective enough with Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis defense has really stepped up over the past couple of weeks while holding the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an average of 16.5 points per game in consecutive wins. The Colts’ defense will be put to the test versus Pittsburgh and the key will be generating pressure up front and disrupting Roethlisberger’s timing in the pocket, which could be a lot easier said than done.
What The Steelers Will Have To Do To Win
The Steelers don’t have the luxury of playing in the AFC South and at 6-5 they are currently three games back of the Cincinnati Bengals atop the AFC North at 9-2. Pittsburgh is coming off a tough 39-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and has been riddled by injuries this season but they are still in the mix for a wild card spot with every game a must-win the rest of the way. The biggest problem for the Steelers is that their remaining schedule is absolutely loaded with the Colts, Bengals, Broncos, Ravens and Browns the rest of the way. Baltimore and Cleveland aren’t in contention for playoff spots but they are rivalry game and both Cincinnati and Denver are competing for the top two seeds in the AFC. All of that will lead to a sense of urgency for Pittsburgh this week with Ben Roethlisberger likely to start and be fine after suffering a concussion in the loss to Seattle. The Steelers don’t have Le’Veon Bell available but DeAngelo Williams has been solid for them and they do have a healthy cast of wide receivers led by Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and last week’s breakthrough star Markus Wheaton. Pittsburgh’s defense is good enough to keep Hasselbeck and company in check for a while but the key will be for the offense to play to its potential and pick up from where it left off in Seattle last week.
Outlook & Pick
The Colts have played some quality football with Luck sidelined over the past couple of weeks but they are overdue for a loss and it won’t be a surprise if it happens this Sunday. Pittsburgh has one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL even without Bell in the lineup and their ability to move the ball through the air will be tough for the Indianapolis defense to slow down. The Steelers are entering a critical stretch and it won’t get any easier for them over the next few weeks so clinching a big win this weekend will be essential to their playoff hopes as they compete for an AFC Wild Card spot.
Pick: Pittsburgh -6.5