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5 Questions with Behind the Steel Curtain: are the Colts going to lose to another backup QB?

Sitting down with Jarrett Bailey of Behind the Steel Curtain to talk Colts vs. Steelers.

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 15, our Indianapolis Colts will host the Pittsburgh Steelers. Knowing the party was coming to town this weekend I sat down with Jarrett Bailey of Behind the Steel Curtain. We swapped questions about the Colts and Steelers and what follows is what I learned about this week’s enemy.

You can find my answers to his questions here.

Chris Shepherd: Both the Colts and Steelers enter week 15 playing with their backup quarterbacks. In what ways do you expect the Steelers offense to improve in their second game with Mitch Trubisky?

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrett Bailey: I don’t. There hasn’t been any signs that say the Steelers will all of a sudden become a competent offense 15 weeks into the season. The run game may have a better outing than they did against New England, but they struggle heavily in the red zone. I can’t imagine they’ll be putting up a ton of points.

Note: Saturday will be Trubisky’s second start in a row for the Steelers. We have seen other backups (like Jake Browning) make large improvements after lackluster initial performances. Trubisky is unlikely to have a large jump but it is fair to assume some aspect of the offense will improve in some way.

CS: The Steelers defense is currently the 7th ranked scoring defense in the NFL. If you were an offensive coordinator preparing to play against them, what would your strategy be? What weaknesses are you targeting? What strengths are you avoiding? How are you planning to move the ball and score points against TJ Watt and the rest of that defense?

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

JB: Target the intermediate middle of the field. The Steelers have had injuries at inside linebacker and have struggled to take away the chunk plays in the passing game. The Patriots and Cardinals both did this. Trey McBride and Hunter Henry both had big games. Attack the middle until they can stop it.

Note: The Steelers defense has forced the 7th most turnovers in the NFL (21) and the 4th most interceptions (13) this season. In their last four games they’re giving up 266.5 yards per game, if you extrapolated that out over the full season (which isn’t a thing but I’m attempting to show how well the Steelers defense has been playing lately), they would rank second (2nd) to the Cleveland Browns who are giving up 263 yards per game. It feels like the Steelers defense is peaking, but I’m not the Steelers expert.

CS: Since firing Matt Canada after week 11 the Pittsburgh offense has averaged just under 15 points per game. Some of that, no doubt, has to do with Kenny Pickett’s injury but how has the offense changed since Mike Tomlin made that move? How do Steelers fans feel about the move, three weeks later?

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

JB: It was a move that was long overdue, but it should have happened after last season because the system is still the same, and how the offense is ran makes no sense. The Steelers pass the ball on 2nd and 1-2 16 percent more than the league expected rate, but throw it a combined 22 percent less than the league expected rate on 2nd and 3 or longer. Steelers fans know that nothing will change until a real offensive coordinator and quarterback are brought in.

CS: Both the Colts and Steelers find themselves in this bizarre end of the year playoff hunt despite neither team feeling like a realistic contender. On our end it feels like the team has come this far and they’ve played their way out of having a high draft pick, so it’s full steam ahead hoping for wins down the stretch. From the outside it feels like the Steelers are in basically the same situation. So the question becomes, if they make the playoffs and everything breaks just right for the Steelers, how far can this team go?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

JB: I find myself being in the opposite boat because I’ve seen this movie before. I’d rather the Steelers lose out and go 7-10 because then maybe they’ll make actual changes to the coaching staff and roster construction. If they make the playoffs, their ceiling is getting boat raced in the Wildcard round.

Note: If the Colts make the playoffs the most likely scenario is that they are blown out in the wildcard round, but if everything broke right, there’s a (highly improbable) chance Indy gets blown out in the AFC Championship Game instead and that’s the future I’m hoping for.

CS: DraftKings Sportsbook currently has the Colts as 2.5 point favorites. Is that line fair? How do you see the game going and what will be the final score?

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

JB: The Colts can put up points, so I’d say the line is fair. Shane Steichen has this team as a top 10 scoring offense with less-than-elite weapons, which his a huge testament to him and his scheme. If Indy scores 21 points, the game is over. The Steelers have won one game this year when their opponent scores more than 21, and it was in Week 2 when their defense had more points than their offense. I think the Colts should win, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if the Steelers pull one out of nowhere. If I have to pick, I’ll take the Colts to win 24-18.

As of this writing, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts as 2.5 point favorites this weekend. If you’re betting on this game, you can find updated lines at DraftKings Sportsbook.

I want to thank Jarrett for taking the time to answer these questions before Saturday’s game.

As always, go Colts.