This Sunday’s matchup of the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Indianapolis Colts may not seem like a marquee one at first but rest assured there are many forces at play that are shaping the contest. Though both teams are on two different paths this season, the Steelers cannot overlook the Colts as they begin the final stretch of their season. Here are a handful of interesting factors to keep an eye on during Sunday’s contest.
T.Y. Hilton has scored three touchdowns this season with all three receptions coming on 45 yards or longer pass plays. Though it remains to be seen whether Hilton will dress this Sunday, the Colts’ receiver has been one of the NFL’s flashiest pass catchers. Hilton trails only Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in receiving yardage this season and should the Colts wide receiver dress, Pittsburgh will be hard pressed to find a way to minimize his effectiveness.
In his last three matchups against the Colts, Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been better than perfect, throwing 13 touchdown passes to 0 interceptions. During this three-game span than dates back to 2014, Roethlisberger has completed 72 percent of his passes while holding an impressive 144.6 quarterback rating. The Steelers quarterback will look to continue right where he left off Sunday as Roethlisberger prepares for the second half of his 2017 campaign.
The Colts have struggled to move the football this season as they have only recorded 20 or more first downs in a game once this season. That one occasion also happened to come against the currently 0-9 San Francisco 49ers. With running back Frank Gore averaging just 3.6 yards per carry this season and Hilton ending the week as questionable, the Colts could be in store for another week where they will struggle to move the chains.
The Steelers have made it their personal goal to reach 30 points a game for quite a while. The team has had no luck this season, however, having yet to score 30 or more yet this season, though that may change Sunday against the Colts. The Colts are allowing an average of 28.9 points per game this season, the most points allowed out of any team in the NFL this season. With a depleted secondary and vulnerable defense on the horizon, perhaps the Steelers can finally break the 30-point threshold this Sunday.
While the availability of Hilton remains unknown, one weapon who will be definitely suiting up for the Colts Sunday is tight end Jack Doyle. The Colts’ tight end is currently second among all tight ends with 50 receptions this season, only trailing Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs by one reception. Doyle has been a reliable option for the Colts offense this season as his 78.1 catch percentage ranks third among all tight ends with at least 20 receptions. Doyle may not be a household name yet but he will certainly be an important piece of the Colts’ offense that defensive coordinator Keith Butler will aim to defend.