The Pittsburgh Steelers have failed to win consecutive games so far this season, and that trend could continue Sunday at Heinz Field with the Indianapolis Colts in town.
The 4-3 Steelers are currently third in the highly competitive AFC North while first-place Baltimore appears to be gaining momentum every week. The Steelers can overtake the slipping Bengals but have to watch their backs with 3-3 border-rival Cleveland representing a serious threat in the division.
After losing on the road to the Browns, Pittsburgh rebounded with a 30-23 victory over Houston, highlighted by a 24-point explosion in the second quarter. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdowns to up his total to 10 on the season, and the tandem of running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown continued their stellar play, combining for 17 catches for 178 yards.
It was also a big game for the Steelers defense. A group that had forced six turnovers in the previous six games recovered two fumbles and made their fourth interception of the season against the Texans. Still Pittsburgh showed little improvement against the run, giving up 132 rushing yards and now ranking 17th in the NFL.
Staying alive in the division race could prove difficult for Pittsburgh against a Colts squad that’s won five straight with rising MVP candidate Andrew Luck leading the NFL in passing. Luck’s thrown for 300 or more yards in six of seven games this season, and completed 19 touchdown passes.
Indianapolis sports the best passing game in the league, which was on full display in last week’s 27-0 romping of the Bengals. Luck threw two touchdowns, one apiece for running back Ahmad Bradshaw and tight end Dwayne Allen, and the Colts overcame two turnovers to blank the Bengals.
Yet even with Luck on fire, it was the Colts defense that reigned supreme. Holding Cincinnati to 135 total yards and a singular third down conversion, Indianapolis is now third in the NFL in total defense and its pass rush is tied for fourth with 21 sacks.
In terms of injuries, both sides will miss some key players. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Steve McLendon is listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury, while defensive backs Ike Taylor (forearm) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) both returned to practice this week but won’t be active. Offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert sustained a concussion against Houston and didn’t practice all week, making him doubtful.
The biggest hold out for the Colts is veteran receiver Reggie Wayne due to a elbow injury he suffered against the Bengals. Wayne is second on the team in catches and receiving yards. Indianapolis also listed running back Trent Richardson as questionable after he sat out Friday’s practice with a hamstring injury.
Start Time: 4:25 p.m. EST
TV Channel: CBS
Betting Odds: Colts -3.5
Over/Under: 49 points
Prediction: Indianapolis 24, Pittsburgh 20