The Indianapolis Colts (7-6) will welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) to Lucas Oil Stadium this Saturday in a crucial matchup featuring a couple of AFC playoff hopefuls. If the regular season finished today, both would sneak into the postseason as two of the three Wild Card teams, but a lot can change with four games still left on the schedule.
Neither squad won their Week 14 matchup as the Colts fell to the Bengals and the Steelers were outlasted by the Patriots. In his first year on the job, Indianapolis head coach Shane Steichen has an opportunity to lead the Colts into the playoffs, but he'll first need to get past Pittsburgh's veteran, Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Tomlin. Here's what Indianapolis needs to do to avoid its second-straight loss.
3. Colts offensive line needs to step up after last week's dud
For the most part, the Indianapolis offensive line has had a bounce-back year, but their performance now down the stretch will be doubly important. Strong o-line play is a huge boost to the offense, both for the passing game and the ground attack. When the o-line falters, the Colts are going to have a hard time getting down the field and scoring points.
This was apparent last week against the Bengals when the offensive line’s struggles were a big reason the Indianapolis offense was held to seven points. The line failed to open up running lanes against Cincinnati’s bottom-10 rushing defense and Zack Moss was kept under wraps throughout the game. The Colts offensive line also gave up three sacks as Trey Hendrickson and company generated pressure with ease. With no run game to lean on and not much time in the pocket, Gardner Minshew delivered a disappointing performance.
Indianapolis usually has one of the most productive offenses in the league but if the offensive line can't execute their assignments, the Colts' drives are bound to stall. The team needs Bernhard Raimann, Blake Freeland, and Braden Smith (if healthy) at their best when they face the Steelers’ talented edge rushers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith (combined 20 sacks this season).