NBC has to love tonight’s matchup. Two of the most successful franchises of the last decade, with 3 Super Bowl titles and 5 Super Bowl appearances since 2005. Peyton Manning vs. Ben Roethlisberger. Wait, never mind.
At least you can use this game as a tune up for the upcoming Monday Night Football slate, to get yourself conditioned for some bad teams. The Sunday Night games appear to be decent from here until the flex games come in, and you know that they will be flexing out of Pittsburgh-Kansas City and the Colts and Patriots (unless Manning is back by Dec. 4th). The remaining Monday Night games still have the Colts, Jaguars (2x), Miami, Kansas City (2x), Minnesota, St. Louis, and Seattle.
As for the game, I know Colts fans are frustrated with how bad they have looked. Trust me, Indianapolis is just standard bad. Standard bad teams are the type that lose more than they win, occasionally in blowouts, sometimes close. It’s a shock to the system after seeing the Colts in the playoffs the last several years, but they are nowhere near as bad as Seattle and Kansas City, and are in the same range as about 8 other teams.
This game is about whether Pittsburgh can make explosive plays in the passing game against Indianapolis, or whether the Colts can limit the Steelers to field goals and create some turnovers. As I noted in taking the Colts with the point spread, the Steelers haven’t been a great road team in domes, going 7-9 and 4-10-2 against the spread in regular season dome games since 1993.
The Colts aren’t going to have many opportunities to sustain drives–the line just isn’t good enough and the running game hasn’t been dynamic–so they will have to take what opportunities they have and maximize the points. The Steelers did give up some runs in the opener, but were better defensively last week.
Sometimes these primetime games that don’t look like much turn into contests. I think the Steelers are better, and they win, but I could see them struggling a bit before putting the Colts away. My pick: Pittsburgh 23, Indianapolis 14
[photo via Getty]