7 Things To Watch For: Colts and Steelers
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INDIANAPOLIS – The most difficult home game of the 2017 season arrives on Sunday for the 3-6 Colts.
Coming off a bye week, the Steelers (6-2) will invade Lucas Oil Stadium with plenty of black and yellow fans, and as a double-digit favorite.
Here are seven things to watch for when the Colts and Steelers meet at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday:
1. Slow Down The B’s
-Big Ben, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell---that’s the Hall of Fame caliber talent Pittsburgh still possesses. Will the Colts try and double-team Brown, the league’s leading receiver? Is a spy needed for Bell, the dynamic running back out of the backfield? Can they finally sack Big Ben, the tree-like quarterback who plays behind one of the league’s best offensive lines?
2. New Offensive Line
-Will the Colts be shifting things up front again this weekend? They could be with Denzelle Good (wrist) coming off the IR to return list. Chuck Pagano did caution earlier this week in throwing Good back into his right tackle spot (where Good started Week One). Maybe Good goes to right guard, where he has started before, and the Colts keep Joe Haeg at right tackle.
3. Defense Continues to Change
-Defensive end Henry Anderson (larynx) is now on injured reserve. Cornerback Vontae Davis has been released. Let the defensive re-shuffling occur again. Look for the long Pierre Desir to be the guy opposite Rashaan Melvin. At DE, the role for Margus Hunt is about to grow into a starting one. Hunt has been effective this year, but Anderson is one of the team’s best players.
4. String ‘Em Together T.Y.
-Stringing together big receiving games in consecutive weeks has been difficult for T.Y. Hilton (as it is for many receivers). But even more attention is on Hilton’s numbers because he is the only major threat the Colts have in 2017. The Steelers do have one of the better passing defenses in the NFL.
5. Personal Challenge
-Darius Butler calls this week ‘personal.’ And that’s very understandable, as the Colts have been outscored 124-51 in three consecutive losses to the Steelers. The personnel, outside of Butler, has been turned over quite a bit in Indy. But this game should be personal for Chuck Pagano and the others who have been a part of these humiliating losses.
6. ‘Home’ Game
-On the schedule, this is a ‘home’ game for the Indianapolis Colts. However, there’s going to be quite a lot of black and yellow inside of Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It’s about a 6-hour drive from Pittsburgh and this loyal fan base is going to try and make LOS have a Heinz Field West feel to it this weekend.
7. Good Tasting Bye Week
-The Colts will head into their bye week following Sunday’s contest. Waiting after the bye are back-to-back divisional games against the top of the AFC South (vs. Titans and at Jaguars). Can the Colts pull of the upset and all of a sudden create some momentum heading into the bye? Something odd to note: Pittsburgh is coming off their bye week. They’ve lost their last three post-bye games.
Bowen’s Prediction: Steelers, 31-17. It’s kind of scary that the Pittsburgh offense hasn’t really taken off completely this year. Yet, the Steelers are still 6-2. Mike Tomlin’s team has found major defensive improvement in several areas, giving the Steelers a much more balanced look at the top of the AFC. This is an awful matchup for the Colts. They’ve struggled mightily in years past, on both sides of the ball, against the Steelers. I see the Steelers being very focused coming out of the bye week and reaching the 30-point plateau, ultimately pulling away from the Colts in the second half.