The Pittsburgh Steelers face off against the Indianapolis Colts on Thanksgiving night on NBC with 8:30 pm ET kickoff time at Lucas Oil Stadium. Playing the game on Thursday night means that the Steelers only have three days to prepare for the Colts after beating the Browns 24-9 on Sunday. Here is a look at this key matchup and what the Steelers need to do to win.
Nearly a Must-Win
While the Steelers do not have to win every game the rest of the season to make the playoffs, they cannot afford to lose more than one or maybe two games with their 5-5 record. That means the team needs to get in playoff mode right now. They need to treat every game the rest of the year as an elimination game because it very well could be.
Matchups to Watch
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Colts Pass Defense
If the Steelers are going to win this matchup, they need to focus on throwing the ball. That should be no problem since Pittsburgh has one of the best quarterbacks and passing attacks in the NFL. Big Ben is a beast, and he should be able to shred this Indianapolis pass defense. The Colts rank dead last in the league against the pass. They are giving up an average of 285 yards per game to opponents. With the Steelers sixth-rated passing attack, Roethlisberger should have no problem throwing the ball all over the field, racking up lots of yards and scoring lots of points.
Andrew Luck vs. Pittsburgh Pass Defense
Unfortunately for Steelers fans, this year’s team is no Steel Curtain. They have been good against the run, but they are pretty awful against the pass. That is not a good thing when you have to go on the road to face one of the best young quarterbacks in the game. The Steelers rank 26th in the NFL against the pass, giving up an average of 268 yards a game to opposing quarterbacks. That is a scary statistic when they are about to face a quarterback of Luck’s caliber. The Steelers corners need to really focus on shutting down the Colts’ leading receiver, T.Y. Hilton, who has 888 yards receiving and five touchdowns on the year to lead the team.
This game really comes down to which poor pass defense can step up and play better than they have so far this year. The good news for Steelers fans is that the oddsmakers like their chances. They are currently two-point betting favorites. If they can keep their cool and play to their potential, Pittsburgh should leave Indianapolis with a victory on Thanksgiving night.