Sunday at Hinez Field it’s the first of three straight home games for the AFC North first place Pittsburgh Steelers, who start with an interesting test against the 4-4 Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are coming off a hard fought 18-15 win over the New England Patriots at home, but need to keep on winning if they want any hopes of making it back to the post season. They are trailing the Titans by four games, so their only hope of the post season is of the wild card route.
The Steelers are feeling good after a 23-6 win over the Redskins last Monday night on the road. They beat up Washington on defense, and on offense were able to score two TD’s and get three field goals from Jeff Reed. They did suffer some injuries of their own, as RB Willie Parker hurt his shoulder and won’t play, and QB Ben Roethlisberger re-injured his shoulder, but practiced Friday and could play in the game.
This game seems to be headed in the direction of if the Colts offense, ranked 22nd this season, can do much of anything against the Steelers number one ranked defense, allowing just 234.1 yards per game. The defense has answered every test they have seen in 2008, including last weeks game vs the NFL’s leading rusher, Clinton Portis and the Skins.
Peyton Manning and the offense needs to get back into rhythm. They are putting up 243.3 yards per game through the air, and if they are going to get a win on the road, they are going to need to do it throwing. They are rushing for just 70.1 yards per game, worst in the league. Manning has thrown 12 TD’s and 9 picks, and has 2008 yards through the air, 251 yards per game on average.
Indy’s defense is 15th in the league, and they are going to have the task of possibly stopping Steeler backups Mewelde Moore at RB and maybe even Byron Leftwich at QB. Both those players have had shinning moments in 08, as Leftwich played well in relief of Roethlisberger on Monday night, and Moore has stepped in and played well when Parker has been unable to go due to injury.
The crowd at Hinez Field loves their team, and it likely will be a factor for Manning and the Colts as they try to change plays and move the ball. As if the solid Steelers D isn’t enough, the team will have the advantage of the crowd on their side as well. The Steelers lost at home two weeks ago to the Giants, and want to rebound in front of the home fans in this battle.
In the end, the Steelers should be able to move to 7-2 with a win here. Manning and the Colts are 2-2 on the road, having dropped their last two. It’s not the type of season they thought they would be having, but it is what it is. Look for a big home win for the Steelers, who look to keep putting pressure on the Ravens in holding the top spot in the AFC North.