Steelers vs. Colts Odds & Picks: Bet On Pittsburgh To Halt Losing Skid Sunday
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Chase Claypool (left) and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Steelers vs. Colts Odds
Perhaps the biggest game of Sunday’s NFL slate takes place in Pittsburgh when the Steelers battle the Indianapolis Colts.
After starting the season 11-0, the Steelers have since lost three straight, including to the Bengals on Monday Night Football last week. The Steelers offense has struggled with consistency, and things won’t get any easier against one of the NFL’s best defenses on Sunday.
Pittsburgh looked like it had the AFC North all but locked up. Now it looks to be in jeopardy with two weeks left in the season.
This game is vitally important to the Colts and their playoff seeding, too. If they win, they would be in the driver’s seat to win the AFC South. If they lose, they could drop all the way down to the seventh and final seed in the conference.
With the stakes in mind, let’s find out where the value is on this game.
They’ll need their elite defense to show up if they are going to shut down all of Pittsburgh’s weapons.
Anyone who has watched Philip Rivers this season knows he’s declining fast — he’s ranked in the bottom half in passer rating and yards per attempt.
That wouldn’t be a big issue if the Colts had a solid running game behind him, but they don’t: They’re 29th in rushing success (per Sharp Football Stats) and are running the ball for a measly 4.0 yards per carry.
That said, the Colts have improved on offense over their three-win streak, gaining 6.6 yards per play. However, their performances should be taken with a grain of salt: They played the Raiders and the Texans (twice) over that stretch — two below-average defenses.
The Colts have been fortunate they haven’t had to face too many tough defenses. When they faced off against Chicago and Baltimore, they only averaged a measly 4.72 yards per play, so a defense like Pittsburgh’s is going to be a challenge.
The strength of this Colts defense is in their front seven.
They’re one of the best teams in the AFC against the run, allowing only 3.8 yards per carry. In fact, they are sixth in explosive rushing allowed, so this front seven allows very few big plays.
However, the Colts have had some issues in the secondary, especially giving up big plays in the passing game — they allow 7.0 yards per attempt and are 27th in passing explosiveness allowed. That’s going to be an issue against the Steelers, given all of the weapons they have at the wide receiver position.
To say that the Steelers offense is struggling would be an understatement. Over their last three games, they’re gaining a measly 4.3 yards per play and only 2.9 yards per rush attempt. They’re the NFL’s worst rushing offense, ranking 31st in rushing success and 30th in rushing explosiveness.
That’s going to be a problem against Indianapolis’ stout rushing defense.
Ben Roethlisberger has really struggled with efficiency, averaging only 6.2 yards per attempt — by far the lowest average of his career.
The good news is that Big Ben has so many weapons to throw to right now and will be facing a below-average secondary. If the Steelers are going to win this game, their passing game is going to have to be on point.
The main reason the Steelers started out 11-0 is because of their defense: They rank second in yards allowed per play at only 4.8, giving up an average of only 4.5 over their three-loss streak.
The Steelers defense is led by the secondary, which ranks first in defensive passing success — they’re allowing only 6.5 yards per attempt. Their secondary has been opportunistic, picking off opposing quarterbacks 17 times this season. Their front seven has also been wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, leading the league in sacks with 47 already.
They should have no trouble against 39-year-old Rivers on Sunday.
Pittsburgh’s run defense has also been stellar, allowing only 4.1 yards per carry and 3.4 over the losing streak, so it’s clearly not the defense’s fault.
With Indianapolis not having a strong run game, the Colts are going to struggle to move the ball on Sunday.
In my opinion, this line is an overreaction to Pittsburgh’s recent losing streak. The Steelers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, and if their offense can just score 20 points, they should be able to win this game.
I have Pittsburgh projected as about a 4.5-point favorite, so I see value on the Steelers to -2.
Pick: Steelers -1 (to -2)