Indianapolis Colts vs Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Football Week 16 Odds, Preview, Prediction and Picks
Indianapolis Colts vs Pittsburgh Steelers Key Players
|#17 Philip Rivers IND|
|3735 YDS | 22.0 TD | 9.0 INT|
|#7 Ben Roethlisberger PIT|
|3462 YDS | 30 TD | 10.0 INT|
Ben Roethlisberger doesn't want to talk about the ending, whenever it comes. There's so much to worry about right now that the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is looking too far down the road.
That's why Roethlisberger called a gamer-only meeting, on Zoom, of course, this week. Even mired on a three-game losing streak that has sapped his team's arrogance after an 11-0 start, the playoffs are looming.
Roethlisberger, the only player on the list with a Super Bowl ring, wanted to convey the sense of urgency needed to be successful in January.
The message must resonate quickly for the Steelers. Rising Indianapolis (10-4) visit Heinz Field on Sunday. The Colts have won five of six to take control of the AFC South.
And while Roethlisberger has struggled lately, throwing eight touchdowns and six picks in his last five games, his 2004 draft partner Philip Rivers hasn't. Rivers, 39, has a 109.3 quarterback rating in the same span, thanks in part to the kind of balance the Steelers have found elusive.
Despite Pittsburgh's current downfall, the Steelers (11-3) can still lock in the AFC North with a win in either of their last two games.
Indianapolis will secure a playoff spot with a win and a loss to Baltimore or Miami. It's exactly what Rivers signed up for when he parted ways with the Chargers during the offseason.
Cincinnati pushed Pittsburgh through much of a 27-17 upset last Monday that turned the Steelers' downfall into near-total crisis.
Roethlisberger spent the week apologizing for his play and coach Mike Tomlin had to tell wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to cut the pregame dance on the midfield logo after two opponents commented on it.
The shine of one of the best installments in franchise history is gone. The Colts have the momentum and look of a team that could do serious damage well into January. The Steelers can't afford to look that far down the road. And they know it.
Pro Bowl linebacker Darius Leonard sealed Indy's victory last weekend by hitting the ball off Houston catcher Keke Coutee with 19 seconds left.
He also recorded 12 tackles, giving him 109 this season to make him the first player in franchise history to exceed 100 tackles in each of his first three seasons.
Leonard now needs six tackles to break Duane Bickett's club record (398) for the most tackles in his first three seasons. Leonard was the Defensive Rookie of the Year and won All-Pro honors in 2018. He made his first Pro Bowl last season and has had six games with at least 10 tackles this season.
Colts rookie Jonathan Taylor learned a lot about being an NFL running back during October and November. It is paying big dividends now. He has averaged 103.5 yards rushing in his last four games and has moved 158 yards rushing from becoming Indy's first rookie running back at 1,000 yards since Joseph Addai in 2006.
One of the main reasons the Pittsburgh offense has taken a significant step backward in recent weeks is the inability of the running game to take a step forward.
The Steelers are the NFL's 31st rushing offense, but they could find some momentum in Cincinnati after Benny Snell rushed for 84 yards.
Snell's performance came with starter James Conner sitting down with a quadriceps injury. Although Conner is expected to be available, Snell estimates that he has gained more of the workload.
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|Indianapolis Colts vs Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction|
It's hard to imagine the Steelers falling for the fourth straight loss with the AFC North division potentially at stake. Don't expect a sudden resurgence in the offensive backfield to generate the kind of balance the team needs to compete in the playoffs. No, this is the game when coach Mike Tomlin breaks the game plan and returns to Roethlisberger by tossing the ball through the air to play soccer on the playground. This will be one of the many times that one-dimensional style works for the Steelers. They will avoid sending Snell's helmet to the Colts' iron defensive wall first, while Roethlisberger stands out as the aging gunslinger. Watt and the Steelers fierce passing rush will take care of the rest on the other side of the ball.