Indianapolis (6-5) at Pittsburgh (6-5)
When: Sunday, December 6th 2015
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: NBC
A pair of 6-5 teams meet on Sunday Night Football as the Indianapolis Colts will visit the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Colts have show a resurgence under 40-year old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Indianapolis has won three straight games and Hasselbeck is now 4-0 as a starter for the injured Andrew Luck. Hasselbeck was 26-of-42 for 315 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 25-12 win over Tampa Bay. The victory kept the Colts in a tie with Houston atop the AFC South. They also hold the final Wild Card spot, but are tied with four other teams who are 6-5. I would have never thought a month ago that the AFC South would get two teams in, but there’s a strong possibility now. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton caught both of Hasselbeck’s touchdowns while Donte Moncrief snagged eight catches for 114 yards. Hasselbeck might have to be effective again as the running game has been dreadful. Frank Gore had only 24 yards on 19 carries last week and backup Ahmad Bradshaw is out for the season. Gore has yet to break 100 yards in a game this season and has the lowest yards per carry average of his career at 3.6. The Colts defense has been a mess despite being among the league leaders with 14 interceptions. They’ve allowed over 20 points in nine of their eleven games this season and are ranked 27th against the pass and 24th against the run. The Colts end the season with four games against the AFC South including a December 20th date with Houston.
The Steelers are coming off a 39-30 loss in Seattle in which they allowed the Seahawks to score three fourth-quarter touchdowns through the air. Pittsburgh is 30th in the league against the pass allowing 283.6 yards a game. There’s nothing wrong with the offense now that Ben Roethlisberger is back. He suffered a scare last week when he had to leave the game after a hard hit to the head, but has been cleared to play tonight. He threw for 456 yards last week, but also had two interceptions. That was the most yards a Seattle team has ever surrendered at home to a quarterback. Roethlisberger set franchise records with 522 yards and six TD passes in a 51-34 win over Indianapolis last season. Markus Wheaton had nine catches for 201 yards and a TD last week and Antonio Brown had 6 catches giving him 33 receptions in the last three games. Pittsburgh is the first team with three players – Brown, Wheaton and Martavis Bryant – to have a 175-yard receiving game in the same season. The Steelers are losing a tiebreaker to the other 6-5 teams fighting for the wild card, but could pass Indy with a win today. Their schedule gets tough after today. They’ll play Cincinnati and Denver next before finishing up with Baltimore and Cleveland.
Eventually the 40-year old Hasselbeck is going to come back down to earth and I think its tonight. The Steelers are rolling on offense and put up 51 at home to these Colts last year. It’s a must-win for Pittsburgh and I think they get it done convincingly.
Pick: Steelers -7