Colts Face the Steelers on Sunday Night Football


With Andrew Luck still sidelined, It’s up to Matt Hasselbeck to continue their win streak in hostile territory as the Colts face the Steelers at Heinz Field, tonight on Sunday Night Football.

The Indianapolis Colts are winners of three straight but face a dangerous team in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite their 6-5 record, the Steelers are 4-2 at home this season and 20-6 all-time against the Colts. Big Ben Roethlisberger is healthy again but is missing a key backfield weapon in Le’Veon Bell. Deangelo Williams is having a renaissance in Pittsburgh this year in place of Bell. The biggest concerns for the Colts from a defensive standpoint is to figure out how to slow down Antonio Brown.

Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will have his hands full in the primetime matchup against the Steelers. Pittsburgh will be looking to limit the Colts running attack and force Hasselbeck to throw the ball early and often. Colts running back Frank Gore has been banged up the past few weeks and his production is limited. Without Ahmad Bradshaw, who was placed on IR with a wrist injury, the Colts will look to Dan Herron to spell Gore. Herron recently claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills, was the Colts starting back by season’s end in 2014. Herron averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season.

The Indianapolis Colts are 3-2 on the road this season and 4-0 with Hasselbeck under center. The emergence of Donte Moncrief as the true #2 option behind T.Y. Hilton has been a welcomed surprise. Moncrief hauled in 8 of 9 targets for 114 yards last week against the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. Hasselbeck has plenty of dependable targets at his disposal if you consider he also has two quality tight ends – Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener – who are awaiting their breakout games under offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.

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WHO: Indianapolis Colts (6-5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

WHEN: Today, 8:30 pm ET / 7:30 pm CT

WHERE: Heinz Field (Pittsburgh, PA)

TV Broadcast: NBC

Media Stream: NBC Live Extra

RADIO: Indy’s SportCenter 93.5 FM /1070 AM

Three Things to Watch For:

The Colts offensive line is the greatest concern. With starters Anthony Castonzo and Hugh Thornton missing from the week, the Colts look to start the same lineup as last week. Joe Reitz slides over from right tackle to start at left tackle for the second week in a row. Jack Mewhort remains at left guard with Jonathon Harrison alongside him starting at center. Backup Lance Louis will be installed at right guard with veteran Todd Herremans a healthy scratch for several weeks now. The surprise so far has been rookie Denzelle Good – who will start at right tackle – the seventh-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Good raised eyebrows at the draft when he was drafted being from Mars Hill College as well as a relative unknown to draft expert Mike Mayock.

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The Colts have had a sub-par pass rush for most of the season but was able to generate five sacks against the Tampa Bay Buccanneers last Sunday. They will need to continue the pressure on Roethlisberger, but will have to remain disciplined in the pocket and in the secondary. With Big Ben’s ability to extend plays with regularity, the Colts defense will have to stick with their assignments for much longer than they are accustomed to. Should the Colts defense breakdown, this game could quickly turn into a rout similar to the 51-34 shellacking the Colts took last year in Heinz Field.

Containing Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant down the field will be an utmost priority, but the matchups do not favor the Colts in this regard. While Vontae Davis is considered a premier shutdown cornerback, but he cannot cover two receivers at once. Greg Toler has been a liability all season covering deep and the Colts have struggled to maintain their coverage in crossing routes  over the middle of the field. Both of which are options heavily favored by the Steelers in their offense.

This game looked much more fearsome at the beginning of the season. Both, the Colts and Steelers have faced a plague of injuries in recent weeks. Now, the playing field is only slightly more level, despite the Colts being on the road in Pittsburgh where they have only won once in their past eight appearances in the regular season since 1984.

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The Colts can win this game by controlling the time of possession battle and minimizing turnovers. They cannot afford a slow start being on the road and must come out committed to executing this game plan. Expect the Colts to test and probe the Steelers defensive line looking for any openings for Gore and Herron. Hasselbeck will continue his get-it-out-quick release in the short yardage passing game. Call it a hunch, but I predict an upset tonight. The Colts and Steelers have never had an overtime game in the regular season, so I say there’s a first time for everything.

Prediction: The forty-somethings do it again. Colts win 30-27 in OT.

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