The NFL playoffs don’t start until January, but Sunday’s matchup between the 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers, and the 6-5 Indianapolis Colts is potentially an elimination game for the loser.
The only way the Steelers can get in, is as an AFC Wild Card. Currently they are the second team on the outside looking in behind the 6-5 New York Jets. For the Colts, they need to win Sunday in order to keep pace with the Houston Texans if they have any shot to win the AFC South division, which could be their only way into the playoffs. Something has to give.
Last season when these two teams met in Pittsburgh, a Big XII football game broke out. Roethlisberger and the Steelers out dueled Andrew Luck and the Colts 51-34. Roethlisberger passed for his first of two consecutive games with 6 touchdowns, to go along with 522 yards. Luck threw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, but 2 interceptions. While Luck is likely to miss Sunday’s game with injury, we could still see a repeat of the last matchup with his backup–40 year old and 4-0 in 2015–Matt Hasselbeck in his place.
The Steelers passing attack averages 278.9 yards per game. That’s sixth best in the NFL. The Colts defense gives up 272.8 yards per game. That’s sixth worse in the NFL. We all saw what #7 did against the Seahawks 2nd ranked total defense, you can only imagine what he can do against one of the worst.
While Pittsburgh should have its way on offense, the same could be said for the Colts. They are 14th in the NFL in passing with 253 yards per game, but the Steelers D is 3rd worse against the pass giving up 283.6 yards a game, and fresh off of allowing Seattle QB Russell Wilson to have a career day with 5 touchdown passes and 345 yards.
As of Wednesday, Vegas had the over/under on this game at 49 points. With these defenses, I’d take the over. The Colts are also a 6.5 point underdog. I predict the Steelers will win 36-24.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30, Sunday night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
In addition to rooting for their team, Steeler fans should also root for the Buffalo Bills (5-6) to beat the Houston Texans (6-5), the Oakland Raiders (5-6) to beat the Kansas City Chiefs (6-5), and the New York Giants (5-6) to beat the New York Jets (6-5). The Chiefs and Texans currently hold the 5th and 6th seeds in the AFC Playoffs, while the Jets are the team ahead of the Steelers via tiebreakers to get into the postseason.