The week ten Pittsburgh Steelers come out of their bye week looking to build on their momentum. They gained separation in both the division and conference while they were off, getting healthier in the process. The Steelers start the second half of the season with a trip to face the Indianapolis Colts. While the Colts are a team in disarray, the Steelers can’t afford to overlook them. Mike Tomlin needs to have his team focused and prepared as if the Colts were Super Bowl contenders themselves. The pieces are falling perfectly in place for the Steelers. They need to take full advantage of a favorable second half schedule that starts in Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Steelers have a history of playing down to the competition that goes back to the 70’s. That is always a legitimate concern, but this Steelers team is still evolving. They haven’t played their best football yet. They have discovered their identity, but still search for the consistency that all champions have. The Steelers laid the groundwork for a Super Bowl run in the first half of the season. Now, it’s time to put the final pieces of the puzzle together. The first of those pieces is the Indianapolis Colts. On paper, the Steelers should be in for an easy time, but that’s why they play the games. The Steelers must be aggressive, disciplined, avoid self-inflicted wounds and adhere to the four keys to victory.
Week Ten Pittsburgh Steelers keys to victory Number One: Shut down the run
The Colts ground game is led by Frank Gore, who still has somewhat of a burst at 33. Gore runs with the same power and is still big game capable, but isn’t quite the threat he once was. The Steelers should be more concerned with Marlon Mack.The South Florida rookie runs like he has ball bearings in his hips. Mack is capable of taking it all the way, but his weakness is a lack of consistent power. He is averaging just over four yards per carry and has three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. The Steelers need to shut these two down early, and force the Colts to beat them through the air.
Week Ten Pittsburgh Steelers keys to victory Number Two: Keep Pressure on Jacoby Brissett
Keith Butler and his defense have the perfect matchup this week. The Steelers are tied for second with 26 sacks, while Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been sacked 32 times. For all his immobility though, Brissett is completing 61% of his passes and has thrown seven touchdown passes. Brissett can win if given time to throw. He has three games this season with a passer rating of over 100, winning the last two. The first game, he came in after the game was out of hand.
The Steelers need to keep Brissett uncomfortable, and focused on the pass rush. Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and T.J. Watt are set to have big games. They could all be cashing in at the Sack exchange this week. Butler needs to be aggressive and mix up his blitzes. The highlight of the game could be the diminutive Mike Hilton lighting up the six foot-four inch, 239 pound Bissett.
Week Ten Pittsburgh Steelers keys to victory Number Three: Execute the Redzone Offense
The Steelers could very well be undefeated if their redzone offense was up to par. Their touchdown percentage in the redzone is around 41.38% overall, 33% at home and 56% on the road. The Colts defense is ranked 11th in redzone defense, giving up touchdowns 50% of the time. This matchup favors a Steelers offense with a plethora of weapons. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and rookie sensation JuJu Smith-Schuster are capable of doing great things from the redzone. Their redzone success could be the difference in this game, so it’s important they stop trading touchdowns for field goals.
Week Ten Pittsburgh Steelers keys to victory Number Four: Contain Jabaal Sheard
The Colts have 18 team sacks, with almost half coming from outside linebackers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon. Simon isn’t likely to play due to residual effects from a stinger, but Sheard will be ready to attack. The Steelers know him well from his days with the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Cleveland Browns. They know Sheard is relentless and disruptive, and arguably the Colts best defensive player. The Steelers need to isolate and keep him out of the backfield, away from Roethlisberger. The Colts give up more points and yards than anyone, so the less they hear from Sheard the better.
The Colts, who already have just about the worst defense, will be Vontae Davis and Simon. The Steelers should be able to do whatever they want on offense, including within the redzone. This is setting up to be one of those games where the Steelers could put up some big numbers. It almost wouldn’t be a shock if Brown went over 100 receptions on the season by halftime.
Admittedly, and seriously, this is a game the Steelers should win without too much difficulty. Their history of playing down to the competition is real, but not this time around. The Colts bring out the best in Roethlisberger and the Steelers, consequently, they win this one going away.
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