SERIES HISTORY: 25th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 18-6, and have won 10 of the past 12. The Steelers are 2-2 at the RCA Dome and most recently won there in 2011. The Steelers and Colts met in the playoffs four times, with the Steelers winning all four, including a 21-18 upset in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2006, the second of four postseason wins en route to their Super Bowl XL title.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was put in the league's concussion protocol Monday and the team hopes to learn Wednesday if he can play in this Thanksgiving game. If Luck can't play, the Steelers will face backup Scott Tolzien, who has two career NFL starts on his resume.
If Tolzien gets the call, he will be the fifth different starting QB for Indianapolis against the Pittsburgh in the last five regular season meetings -- Peyton Manning in 2008, Kerry Collins in 2011, Andrew Luck in 2014, Matt Hasselbeck in 2015 and perhaps Tolzien on Thursday.
This game could be just what the Steelers need on Thanksgiving, a holiday that hasn't been kind to them over the years. They are 1-6 all-time on Thanksgiving Day and haven't won on the holiday in 66 years.
The Steelers haven't scored more than two offensive touchdowns on the road since the season opener in Washington. They scored just one offensive touchdown Sunday against the Browns, who are even worse than the Colts defensively.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a strong track record against the Colts in recent years. In the past two games against the Colts he threw for almost 900 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. He threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-34 victory in 2014. He threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-10 win last season.
The Steelers controlled last week's game against the Browns from start to finish by following a simple formula: running and stopping the run. Against the Colts, a similar game plan should be successful. The Colts have one of the worst defenses in the NFL and Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell could have another big game. Bell had 36 touches against the Browns -- 28 carries and eight receptions -- and produced his fourth career 200-yard scrimmage game.
By stuffing the Cleveland running game the Steelers were able to turn up the pressure and sack Browns quarterbacks eight times Sunday. They had just 13 in the first nine games of the season. If the Steelers can stuff Gore they'll have an opportunity to pressure against whoever quarterbacks the Colts.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Steelers linebackers vs. the Colts offensive line. Steelers linebackers accounted for 4.5 of the team's eight sacks against the Browns. Arthur Moats had 1.5 and James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier each had one. The Colts offensive line has problems protecting the quarterback. Andrew Luck was one of the NFL's most-sacked quarterbacks before getting injured Sunday. He endured 35 sacks and was 77 times.
--Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Colts secondary. Roethlisberger hasn't put up great stats in road games this season, but he should be optimistic for a couple of reasons Thursday night. For one, the game is indoors and Roethlisberger won't worry about the weather. Also, the Colts give up the most passing yards in the NFL. They are allowing 284.5 passing yards per game. It could be a big day for Antonio Brown and the other Steelers receivers.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Steelers TE Ladarius Green. The Steelers have struggled in the red zone in recent weeks and the 6-foot-6 Green has the potential to help in that area. The coaches played Green just eight snaps against the Browns, his second game since being added to the 53-man roster after being on the physically-unable-to-perform list. When Green has played he hasn't come down with contested catches against the Cowboys or Browns. He failed to come down with a two-point conversion against the Cowboys and he failed to come down with a catch in the end zone against the Browns. The Steelers need Green to start producing, especially in the red zone. They were counting on him to be a factor in that area when they signed him to a four-year, $20 million contract in March
FAST FACTS: Steelers WR Antonio Brown caught 18 passes for 251 yards (125.5 per game), 4 TDs. He is the fastest in NFL history to collect 600 catches (in 96 games). LB James Harrison is franchise leader with 77.5 sacks and made seven in past 5 meetings. ... Colts LB Erik Walden aims for fifth consecutive game with a sack. He is one of only four NFL LBs with at least eight sacks, two forced fumbles. LB D'Qwell Jackson had sack in last meeting and one last week. The Colts are 13-1-1 all-time in Thursday night games with 11 straight wins.
PREDICTION: Here is a game a sensible bettor would avoid, featuring two of the most inconsistent and frustrating teams in the NFL. With Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck in concussion protocol and the Colts' defense playing as if it has a migraine headache, the Steelers should follow an unimpressive win over Cleveland with a "W" at Indy.
OUR PICK: Steelers, 35-21.