Steelers vs. Colts Expert Pick – December 16, 2023
STEELERS VS. COLTS EXPERT PICK – DECEMBER 16, 2023 – With six teams in the AFC sharing a 7-6 record, this game between the Colts and the Steelers is virtually a must-win game for both teams.
The Steelers look to bounce back after two embarrassing home losses to the then two-win Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots. For the first time in his career, coach Mike Tomlin may feel his seat warming up.
The offense that had a glimmer of hope after coordinator Matt Canada was fired has regressed with quarterback Mitch Trubisky at the helm.
According to Pro Football Focus Trubisky earned the worst grade of any starting quarterback in the NFL in Week 14. Injured starter Kenny Pickett puts up pedestrian statistics but does not turn the ball over, which has been the difference in the last two losses.
The national and local media coverage of the Steelers, particularly Mike Tomlin, could not be more different.
There is a decade of frustration around Pittsburgh due to the lack of playoff success. While the national media fawns over Tomlin’s admittedly impressive streak of non-losing seasons, the standard for this franchise is Super Bowls.
The standard certainly is not squeaking into the playoffs only to get the doors blown off by the Kansas City Chiefs as witnessed two seasons ago.
This is what makes the comments by NFL Insider Jay Glazer, known to have a close relationship with Tomlin, so interesting.
“Hey, Washington, he’s from Virginia,” Glazer said. “I’m at least giving it a shot. I’m trying for it. If they decide to move away from Ron Rivera, you’ve got to swing away for a guy like that. If he’s on the hot seat, swing away … Amongst his peers, (Tomlin) is ‘the guy.’”
If ever there was a time for the Steelers to unleash hell in December, it is now. If ever there was a time for the players to rally behind their coach, it is now.
(7-6 SU, 6-4 ATS)
(7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS)
When: Saturday, December 16 2023 at 4:30 PM ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
TV: NFL Network
Colts Keys to Victory
In stark contrast to the gloom and doom surrounding the Steelers 7-6 playoff contending record, the Colts are happy to be here and ready to make a run towards the postseason.
Indianapolis is looking for a bounce back game after the crushing 34-14 loss to the Bengals last week.
The Colts on the season are averaging 25.4 points per game which is ranked 29th in the league. They will need to rely on quarterback Gardner Minshew to exploit a Steelers secondary that has been questionable the last few weeks.
Minshew threw for 240 yards and a touchdown last week as he was not the reason for the loss. It will be interesting how the Colts utilize receiver Michael Pittman.
He tends to line up all over the place and they will look to get him favorable matchups, ideally against the struggling cornerback Levi Wallace. According to Pro Football Focus, Wallace has allowed 14.2 yards per catch, six touchdowns and a 104.1 passer rating on 59 targets. This can be exploited.
Steelers Keys to Victory
It’s time for the Steelers to put the drama in the rearview mirror and make a run for the playoffs. The bottom line is they are 7-6 and are in the playoffs if the season ended today.
There is no apologizing for victories in the NFL, but there is no denying that the offense is terrible with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.
Expect to see blitzes and pressure from the Colts as Trubisky has a 56.9 passer rating when pressured, ranking 33rd in the league.
The Colts have been exposed by elite pass rushers all season. After clearing the concussion protocol, T.J. Watt will look to take advantage of rookie tackle Blake Freeland.
The defense will need to return to early season form and force game deciding turnovers for the Steelers to have any chance against the Colts or to make the playoffs.
It is difficult to see any scenario where Mitch Trubisky wins a game against a quality opponent after witnessing the last two weeks.
Minshew for the Colts may be the best backup in the history of the world and will ride his swagger to victory over the Steelers 31-20.
TJ Watt over .75 sacks -166