Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers pay a visit to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers pay a visit to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo




KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium. TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 25th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 18-6. The Steelers have won four consecutive and 13 of the past 15, including a 28-7 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium last season. The Steelers are 3-2 all-time during the regular season in Indianapolis. The Steelers and Colts have met five times in the playoffs, with the Steelers winning all five. The most recent playoff meeting came during the 2005 season, when the Steelers beat the Colts 21-18 in a divisional round game at RCA Dome.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers have a range of options in attacking the Colts' defense. When they beat the Colts in Indianapolis last season, they ran and passed effectively. Le'Veon Bell rushed for 120 yards and Ben Roethlisberger was 14 for 20 for 221 yards and three touchdowns.


The Colts will try to take away Bell because Roethlisberger has been inconsistent this season. If the Colts are successful in stopping Bell -- and that's questionable given their middle-of-the-road rush defense -- Roethlisberger could be in a position where he has to make some plays in order for the Steelers to win.

When the Steelers are defending the Colts, they'll want to limit Frank Gore's effectiveness in the running game and force Jacoby Brissett into obvious passing situations when the Steelers' front four can rush with abandon and add to their sack totals.

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Brissett is coming off a 308-yard, two touchdown performance against the Texans. He has five touchdown passes and just one interception in the past four games, so the Steelers have to put him in uncomfortable situations.

Indianapolis can't afford to give the ball away against the Steelers' opportunistic defense. Take what the Pittsburgh defense is giving and then attack down field when given the opportunity.

Defensively, the Colts can't allow big plays. It's been an ongoing issue the last three times these franchises have met in the regular season.

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--Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Steelers CB Joe Haden. Hilton has not been a major factor against Pittsburgh in three previous regular-season games. He has been limited to just 12 career receptions, including three each in the last two games. Hilton has one career touchdown against the Steelers.

--Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Colts secondary. Roethlisberger didn't have a great first half of the season, but his eyes might be lighting up in anticipation of facing the Colts, who are 31st in the NFL in pass defense. The Colts are allowing 280 passing yards per game and Roethlisberger has thrown 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in his past three games against the Colts, all Steelers victories.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Steelers WR Antonio Brown. Brown had just five catches in the Steelers' 28-7 victory against the Colts last season, but three of them went for touchdowns. In the past three games against the Colts, Brown has 23 receptions for 342 yards and seven touchdowns.

FAST FACTS: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger passed for 317 yards in Week 8. In his past three games against Indianapolis, he has completed 78 of 108 passes (72.2 percent) for 1,107 yards (369 per game) with 13 TDs and no interceptions. He aims for his fourth meeting in a row with at least three TD passes and a 125 passer rating. ... RB Le'Veon Bell had a rushing TD in Week 8. In his past seven games, he has 932 scrimmage yards (133.1 per game) with five rushing TDs. He has 290 scrimmage yards (145 per game) and a rushing TD in his past two games against Indianapolis. He ranks second in the AFC with 979 scrimmage yards. ... DE Cameron Heyward had a sack in Week 8. He aims for his third game in a row with a sack. He has four sacks in the past five games on the road. ... Colts QB Jacoby Brissett passed for 308 yards, with two TDs, no interceptions and a career-high 122.6 passer rating last week. He has four passing TDs and one interception in his past two games. ... RB Frank Gore has 178 scrimmage yards (89 per game) in his past two games. He has a TD in two of his past three games against Pittsburgh. He ranks seventh in NFL history with 13,520 rushing yards. ... LB Jabaal Sheard had two sacks and two forced fumbles in Week 9. He has two sacks in the past four games against Pittsburgh.


PREDICTION: The Steelers traditionally have the Colts' number, regardless of whether the Colts are good. They are not good this year, and a look at Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell's post-game stats will drive the point home.

OUR PICK: Steelers, 28-17.

--Bucky Dent

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