The Colts should not be underestimated. Of the last 17 regular season games played by all teams in the NFL, there are just three that have the best 14-3 record. In addition to the Patriots and Saints, the Colts stand out. Although a great hunk of that was with Andrew Luck leading the team, his replacement Jacoby Brissett hasn’t done too bad.
Brissett is good at protecting the football. The Colts have only given up 7 turnovers and that has enabled them to post a 5-2 record on the season. The two games they lost were by 6 and 7 points. They are currently on a three-game winning streak and will be looking to extend it to remain the second seed in the AFC.
For the Steelers there is doubt over James Conner’s participation. A short week hasn’t helped his recuperation from his shoulder injury, but the Steelers are hoping the return of Jaylen Samuels will fill some of the void.
Randy Fichtner on what Samuels contributes as a number one running back:
“Well, he’s really unique as a pass catcher, a route runner. He’s nifty in a lot of ways. We know he can be capable of being that one back that can play all three downs. He’s done it before in big games. I think back to New England last year. I mean, he’s had plenty of those moments. So, I’m just excited to have him back.”
Ramon Foster is out, but BJ Finney was a capable replacement in the second half last Monday.
To win the game, the Steelers must try to get at Brissett and unsettle him. Pittsburgh’s defense needs to force turnovers and the receivers need to step up. An easy formula for success, but the Steelers need to keep their streak going.
Mason Rudolph showed in the second half Monday that he can guide his team to victory. It may have been against a winless team, but no game is a gimme. He now needs to reproduce that competence against a team with a winning record.
For me, the main matchup will be seeing T.J. Watt against the Colts right guard Mark Glowinski. If T.J. is on form, he could have a prosperous afternoon that should provide the Steelers with the foundation for a win.
Here’s the matchups the Colts media site found the most intriguing:
- Colts G Quenton Nelson vs. Steelers DL Cameron Heyward – The Colts’ hard-nosed guard has a tough test this week against one of the league’s top interior defensive linemen, Heyward. He is both a productive run-stopper and pass rusher, as he ranks fourth on the Steelers in tackles (34), and second in sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (6.5).
- Colts OT Braden Smith vs. Steelers OLB T.J. Watt – The younger brother of perpetual Colts enemy J.J. Watt got much better in his second NFL season last year, totalling 13.0 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles. He poses a quick, long, athletic challenge for the Colts’ second-year right tackle.
- Colts DE Justin Houston vs. Steelers OT Alejandro Villanueva – The Steelers’ left tackle is a big reason why the team has the least-sacked quarterbacks, allowing just one sack along with two hits and 15 hurries for a total of just 18 pressures so far this season. Houston has been on a tear lately, totalling four sacks and five tackles for loss over the last three games.
- Colts CB Kenny Moore II vs. Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – Smith-Schuster took a huge leap forward in his second year in 2018, finishing in the top 10 in the league in receptions and yards, also scoring seven touchdowns. He does a lot of his damage from the slot, but also moves outside which makes him a very likely matchup for the Colts’ dynamic corner.