Sunday Night Football heads to Steeltown as the promising Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts will do battle with a veteran-laden Pittsburgh Steelers squad. It was quite the debut for the Colts in Week 1 of the pre-season as they throttled the Rams 38-3 on the shoulders of an incredible performance from the former first overall pick from Stanford. Against a tough Steelers defense however, Luck will likely face a much stiffer test come Sunday evening.
On the other side of the football, Pittsburgh and head coach Mike Tomlin have typically treated the pre-season seriously and don’t expect a change in that philosophy in a nationally-televised game against Andrew Luck. Historically, Tomlin is 16-5 in his last 21 pre-season games so expect the Steelers to be raring to go in an attempt to quiet the hype of the Colts’ young quarterback. Pittsburgh looked lost in Week 1 of the pre-season after trying out a bunch of new schemes and plays. Todd Haley has taken over as the Steelers new offensive-coordinator and Pittsburgh players know it’s going to take time to work out all the kinks. Out injured for Pittsburgh on Sunday evening are linebacker James Harrison, running back Rashard Mendenhall, with back-up back Isaac Redman also iffy to play. Look for Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Rainey to play a big role and get the majority of carries in the Pittsburgh backfield.
Colts vs. Steelers Spread and Betting Odds:
Indianapolis Colts +3.5 (-105)
@ Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 (-115)
Over 38 (+100)
Under 38 (-120)
Colts vs. Steelers Pick:
Andrew Luck will certainly face a difficult encore performance Sunday at Heinz Field. Though the Stanford product will surely one-day emerge as a great quarterback, replicating what he did last week on the road against a tough Steelers’ defensive group would be quite the feat. Expect the Steelers to accept the challenge of humbling Luck, confusing him with different looks and rushing him at will. They’re a proud veteran group, and despite their injuries, this is a team that possesses enough depth to disrupt the rhythm of the Indianapolis offense. Long-time Steelers such as Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, and Brett Keisel all caught a glimpse of Luck’s opening performance and want to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen against their defense Sunday night.
Last week the Steelers offense badly sputtered against the Eagles, and the Pittsburgh coaching staff wasn’t all that happy about it. Expect longer looks for the starters against Indianapolis, but still expect some growing pains from Haley’s new offense with an emphasis on the run-game. Moreover, the Steelers possessed some major offensive line issues against Philadelphia, an issue they must eradicate before suiting up Sunday evening. Roethlisberger was sacked hard twice, and altogether Pittsburgh surrendered seven in the game. Steelers’ quarterbacks had minimal time in the pocket, and against an athletic front-seven of the Colts, they’ll need more time and protection if points are to be scored.
Roethlisberger should play into the second quarter, before being relieved by the experienced veteran Charlie Batch. From there, look for Jerrod Johnson, the talented youngster from Texas A&M to take over quarterbacking duties for the remainder of the game. It’s been reported that Johnson could play up to as much as the entire second half.
Though Pittsburgh does possess an edge in quarterback depth, the value in this contest seems to be on the under 38 points in what promises to be a low-scoring affair. Pittsburgh is still working out a ton of wrinkles in their new offensive plans, and their attack is still mostly geared to the run. Add in the fact that their offensive line is having a wealth of protection issues, and it seems like Pittsburgh will be in for a struggle when it comes to moving the football Sunday evening. On the other side, Andrew Luck won’t experience the same success he had in Week 1. A hostile Pittsburgh environment, and a tough and confusing opposing defence should disrupt Luck’s comfort zone, disallowing the Stanford product to put up the big numbers he did last week. Expect a low-scoring, tightly-contested game Sunday evening from Pittsburgh.