As we’ve done in the past, the keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers winning (or losing) this week’s game. Three things that need to happen for them to end up on the right side of the score and vice versa for today’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.
My prediction is at the bottom.
The Steelers Will Win If…
1. Someone other than JuJu steps up.
Especially in critical moments. The Colts are going to double and bracket JuJu Smith-Schuster on third down and in the red zone. Luckily, Diontae Johnson is stepping up at the right time and showing why the team thought so highly of him, reportedly having a first round grade on the receiver they took in the third round.
But it doesn’t matter if it’s him, James Washington, or one of the tight ends. Odds are, someone other than #19 will have to make plays in critical moments. Hope they’re ready for it.
2. The defense protects the seam.
Pretty easy call to make given the fact the Colts have multiple tight ends who are threats in the passing game. That begins with Eric Ebron, averaging an absurdly good 14.5 yards per reception. Gotta protect the seams and middle of the field. Can’t let Indy do what Seattle did them in Week Two, where Will Dissly ran down the numbers twice for scores. Linebackers gotta carry, safeties have to close and be physical.
3. Jaylen Samuels pass protects.
It’s a good thing Samuels is healthy and ready to go this week with the team missing James Conner and Benny Snell. Samuels offer some of those same things; a bigger body, receiving threat, but his pass protection is a question mark. Haven’t gotten to see much of it this year. Last week, Conner’s pass pro was critical and he’s become one of the league’s best in that area. Colts don’t blitz much but if they bring slot corner Kenny Moore off the edge or an ILB gets free, Samuels will be tested.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
1. The defense doesn’t force turnovers.
That’s been their strength in 2019, a stark contrast from a year ago. But the Colts simply don’t turn the football over and Jacoby Brissett is consistently makes good decisions. The Steelers’ offense is finding something resembling an identity but the defense will have to keep the score down and steal possessions. This team still isn’t equipped to win a shootout.
Can’t expect the Steelers to force four turnovers like last week but they gotta get at least one. That’ll be their charge the rest of the season.
2. Special teams allows a big return.
Starting kick returner Zach Pascal has had a strong year and got things started last week against Denver with a 47 yard kick return on the game’s opening play. Steelers’ kick coverage team has mostly been stout but for a Colts’ offense also missing a big playmaker, without star WR TY Hilton, they’ll be counting on winning the field position battle. Can’t let Pascal be that guy.
3. Matt Feiler struggles.
He’s got a tough matchup in Justin Houston, their leader with five sacks on the season. Feiler is known for his consistency but had trouble with Dee Ford’s speed/edge rushes back in Week Two. That was his weakest game. Facing Houston is a difficult matchup. Offensive line has done well to pass protect all season long and it’s gotta continue.
Season Prediction Record