Pittsburgh Steelers vs Indianapolis Colts Preview
Back-to-back wins have vaulted the Indianapolis Colts back into the playoff picture, but they are nearly certain to be without Andrew Luck when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night (Enter Contest). Luck, who is having another strong campaign as he ranks fourth in the NFL with 2,827 yards passing with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions, entered concussion protocol after guiding Indianapolis past Tennessee last week. He will not be available for Chuck Pagano on Thursday.
Scott Tolzien, who has played in six games in his six-year career, will get the start. Tolzien is 56-of-91 for 721 yards with a touchdown and five interceptions in the NFL. Pittsburgh not only snapped its four-game losing streak with a win over lowly Cleveland last time out, but it jumped into a first-place tie in the AFC North in the process. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 146 yards and had a score as the Steelers sent the Browns to their 11th straight loss on Sunday.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (5-5)
Bell has been an all-purpose monster since returning from a three-game suspension to start the season. Sunday marked the first time since Week 4 that he gained over 100 yards on the ground for the Steelers, who rank 23rd in rushing offense. Bell’s success took some of the burden off Ben Roethlisberger, who was held without a touchdown pass. Roethlisberger threw four TD passes as Pittsburgh hammered Indianapolis 45-10 last season. It was another game in which the Colts played without Luck. The Steelers, who have won the last two matchups by a combined 45 points, cautioned his counterpart not to play.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 77 receptions and is fourth with 907 yards. Pittsburgh has injury concerns of its own, especially at wide receiver as Sammie Coates is dealing with three broken fingers, Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot) is out and Marcus Wheaton (shoulder) has landed on injured reserve.
ABOUT THE COLTS (5-5)
Clearing concussion protocol is a huge hurdle for Luck in the short week, and the fact that the Colts don’t play again until December 5 against the New York Jets leaves it likely they’ll let both Luck and safety Clayton Geathers use the extra time to get well. Geathers also was placed in concussion protocol after Sunday’s game and cornerback Vontae Davis is questionable with an ankle injury, leaving the Colts’ passing defense in an ominous situation against Roethlisberger, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes in his last two games against Indianapolis. The Colts may try to lean more on a ground game led by Frank Gore (642 yards, four touchdowns), but they rank 25th in the league in rushing.