The Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Indianapolis on Monday night to take on the Colts in a Monday Night football matchup. Pittsburgh comes into this game at just 3-7 as the team continues to transition into the Kenny Pickett era as the team's quarterback. For the Colts, they are in the midst of their own new era as they play their third game with the team's former all-pro center Jeff Saturday as the team's interim head coach. Both teams lost last week and have their playoff hopes hanging by a thread at this point. The opening kick is scheduled for 8:15pm EST.
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Down, but out?The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled the trigger earlier this season and committed to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett as one of the NFL's oldest and most stable franchises looks to start a new era with a new quarterback. Change is not common for an organization that has had just three head coaches in the last sixty years. It hasn't been all smooth sailing but Pickett has shown progress with each start. Last week, against the Bengals at home, Pickett threw for 265 yards and a touchdown and led the team to 30 points. However, the Steelers scored just 10 points after the half and allowed the Bengals to pull away for a 37-30 win. The Steelers only generated 52 yards of offense on the first six drives of the second half and watched a 20-17 lead slip away.
"Our defense did a great job to give us a chance to win the game and we didn't come through in the second half," Pickett said. "That's on us. we have to get it fixed and have two strong halves in order to beat a team like that."
When it's finally time to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner 🦃 pic.twitter.com/XN3zWNcbxW— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 24, 2022
The Steelers have always relied on their defense and the ability to put pressure on the quarterback. This season, they have had to play far too many games without their primary disruptor and defending NFL sack leader, TJ Watt. Watt returned on Sunday and the team hopes that the defensive numbers will improve with his return. Pittsburgh is ranked 26th in scoring defense and 31st against the pass, two areas that can be significantly improved with Watt's return. Offensively, the Steelers are just 28th in scoring offense this year. They are 22nd rushing the ball and 24th throwing the ball. Pickett has started to develop a relationship with his receivers, particularly rookie wideout George Pickens.
Key Injuries: RB Jaylen Warren (hamstring) and C Mason Cole (foot) are both questionable.
Saturday in the ParkWith the initial uproar surrounding his coaching qualifications seemingly dying down, Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday continues about his business trying to get his team into the playoffs. Saturday's surprise hiring was met with criticism but it is hard to argue that the Colts have played with a spark in his two games at the helm. The first thing Saturday did was put back established veteran Matt Ryan as his starting quarterback to stabilize the offense. The next thing he did was feature running back Jonathan Taylor once again, last year's leading rusher. In his first game, Saturday's squad took down the Raiders 252- in Vegas. Taylor had 22 carries for 147 yards and a score. Last week, in a disappointing one-point loss to the Eagles, Taylor had 22 carries for 82 yards and another score. The Colts defense was up to the challenge against one the league's premier offenses but, after leading 13-3, they tired down the stretch. Indianapolis allowed two touchdowns in the final quarter, including an eight-yard touchdown run by Hurts to seal the win with just over a minute to play.
"Ultimately, they made one more play than we did," Saturday said. "I thought our defense was playing good, playing good enough to win."
Saturday's arrival has certainly simplified the Colts' offense and put the focus on ball control and a ground-and-pound attack. One of the issues with former coach Frank Reich's offense was the team's inability to protect the football. Coming into this week's game, the Colts are 31st in the NFL in turnover differential. The Colts are also just 26th in the league in rushing and 31st in scoring offense. Defensively, the Colts have been strong throughout, ranking 11th in scoring defense this season. They are 12th against the run and sixth against the pass.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
I love this matchup on Sunday. Indianapolis looks like a different team with a much more simplified ball control offense and the return to health of Jonathan Taylor. Saturday's approach has kept Indy in both the games they've played and has taken the pressure off of Ryan at quarterback. Pittsburgh has been good against the run this season, ranking 7th in the NFL, so I expect to see a bit more of Ryan throwing to set up the Colts' rushing attack. On the other side of the ball, Pickett and the Steelers' offense will have issues throwing the ball against a very stingy Colts pass defense. They held the high-powered Eagles' passing attack under 200 yards passing and Pickett does not have nearly the escapability that Hurts possesses. This will be a healthy Colts victory as they try and stay in the playoff hunt.
Take the Colts -2.5.
Full-Game Total Pick
Despite the low-point total here, I'm sticking with the under. The Colts' defense has quietly been one of the best units in the NFL this year even with injuries throughout the season. Pickett is going to have difficulty with the Colts' schemes and ability to put pressure on the quarterback. He will not be able to rely on his ground game against a strong front seven that the Colts possess. On the other side of the ball, Saturday and the Colts will be happy to grind out this game and pass to set up the run and control time of possession.
Take the under, 39.5 points.