- The Pittsburgh Steelers have scored an average of 17 points in the last four game
- The Indianapolis Colts have forced seven turnovers, while not giving the ball away once in the last three games
Three weeks ago, four games separated these two teams. The Steelers were 11-0 and discussions revolved around whether they could go undefeated. Meanwhile, the Colts had just lost to the Titans and were sitting at 7-4. As we enter Week 16, just one game separates the two teams. The Steelers are on a three-game losing streak, while the Colts have won three straight.
Turnovers could very easily be the key to this game for both sides. The Steelers have committed six turnovers in the last three weeks, with just two takeaways. Their ability to take the ball away has been crucial to their method of winning games, and it just has not been happening in the last three weeks.
Meanwhile, the Colts are +6 in turnovers in their three wins. These two defenses rank second (Steelers; 25) and third (Colts; 24) in takeaways. However, the Steelers offense ranks 14th in the league with 17 giveaways, while the Colts rank third with just 12. In a game of this magnitude turovers will be crucial, and right now the Colts appear to be playing safer football on offense and forcing more turnovers on defense.
The Steelers’ run game is also a serious concern. In the past three weeks, they have put up a total of jut 154 rushing yards, piling the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game. Week 16 sees them facing a Colts defense that allows just 3.8 yards per attempt on the ground. It is likely the Steelers are going to have to pass plenty to win this one.
Concerningly for the Steelers defense, they have allowed 226 yards to opposing running backs in the past two weeks. Their struggles against the run have been building since their Week 8 contest with the Ravens. From Week 8 onwards, the Steelers have allowed more than 100 rushing yards in six of their eight matchups. Meanwhile, the Colts offense has fed off the run game, averaging 149.3 yards on the ground in the past three weeks.
The way the Steelers are playing right now, it is hard to see how they can win this game. The Colts should be able to control the ball on the ground, and their defense is more than capable of forcing turnovers from this Steelers offense. It seems crazy that the Colts are favorites, but Heinz Field without roaring fans and swirling towels is not as terrifying as it would be usually.
One factor that would normally play in is the weather. While the temperature should be cool, there is not expected to be any rain during the game, and the wind should be below 10 MPH. All of this plays into the hands of the Colts. They have the run game to control the ball, and the passing game to exploit the Steelers defense if they load the box.
The danger will always be a Phil Rivers meltdown game, but the way the Steelers are playing, the Colts could have a bad game from their passing offense and still come out on top. Take the Colts to cover the spread and win this one by at least a field goal. It likely wont be a bet you feel comfortable with, but they should just have enough on both sides of the ball to limit the Steelers to 21 points or fewer.
In terms of the total, 45 feels about right. This game has 27-24 or 24-21 written all over it. Equally, team totals of 21.5 for the Steelers and 22.5 for the Colts seem to be spot on. My lean on all three totals is to the under this week, but none of them feel strong enough to bet at this stage.
NFL Expert Picks
1u – Indianapolis Colts -2 @ -107
NFL Free Picks
It's a festive week and we have plenty of football to get stuck into. There's no Thursday Night Football this week but we have the Vikings travel to New Orleans to face the Saints on Christmas Day. Saturday gives us a triple threat of football to wager on. The Bucs can secure playoffs if they beat the Lions. Elsewhere the Dolphins face the Raiders and the 49ers play the Cardinals.
Sunday sees a number of matches with playoff implications, the Rams @ Seahawks being the most important. We'll also see the Jets and Jaguars play, with fans of the New Yorkers praying that Jacksonville wins and puts them back in the hotseat for Trevor Lawrence. The Titans face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Monday's game is a dead rubber in all reality, as the Bills travel to play the Patriots, with New England officially out of playoff contention.
Our talented stable of handicappers, led by Ben Gretch, Davis Mattek, Alex Kirshner, Richard Johnson, Ben Rolfe and more brings complete written and video NFL analysis to our users week after week. Make sure you check the site daily for picks from them all.