The Indianapolis Colts are at home for a second straight week to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. Indianapolis, who’s 4-6-1, is looking to bounce back after a close loss against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11. The 3-7 Steelers, meanwhile, are also looking for a needed win after their Week 11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here are my bold predictions for Indianapolis’ primetime matchup against Pittsburgh.
- Colts’ passing game will have bounce-back game against struggling Steelers’ secondary
The Colts’ passing attack struggled heavily against a top-notch Eagles defense in Week 11. Despite having multiple drives inside Philadelphia territory, the Colts only managed to come away with 16 total points. Their offense ranks 31st in points per game with 15.7, but I believe they can have better success against Pittsburgh’s struggling secondary.
Pittsburgh’s defense ranks near the bottom in the league in points allowed per game. They’re allowing opponents to score an average of 24.4 points per game, which ranks 26th in the league. If there was a matchup for the Colts’ offense to try and regain its footing in the passing game, it might be against the Steelers.
It is worth noting,however, that Pittsburgh’s run defense is among the best in the league. Opposing rushers are being held to around 3.9 yards per attempt and rarely eclipse the 100-yard mark. Pittsburgh is surrendering an average of just 103.4 yards per game, which ranks 7th in the league.
In other words, the Colts’ offense is going to need to have success early on in the passing game. If not, Pittsburgh's run defense and pass rush could make moving the football much more challenging for Indy.
- The Colts’ defense will force more than two takeaways and record multiple sacks
Indianapolis’ strength this season has certainly been the play of their defense, which ranks inside the top ten as an overall unit. Their defense will face a rookie quarterback in Kenny Pickett, who’s had some normal rookie growing pains throughout the season. Pickett has a TD:INT ratio of 3:8 and an overall QBR of 71.8.
Pickett is, however, coming off his most complete performance of the season. The rookie threw for 285 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals in Week 11 and will be looking to build off that against a tough Colts’ secondary with two top cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore and Isaiah Rodgers.
The main goal for the Colts’ defense should be to make Pickett play like a rookie and force him into mistakes. Pittsburgh's offensive line has struggled protecting their quarterbacks this season, as the unit has surrendered 29 sacks this season. Indy’s pass rush has been solid this season, and their defensive line, led by DeForest Buckner (5.5 sacks), Grover Stewart (3 sacks) and Yannick Ngakoue (6.5 sacks), could make things much more difficult for Pickett.
To me, that’s what this game will come down to. Can Indy’s defense force enough turnovers, and if so, will the offense be able to capitalize on them? I’m predicting that Indianapolis’ defense will force at least two takeaways and record multiple sacks against Pickett and Co. Monday night.