Sunday, September 25, 2011

Steelers vs. Colts

Alrighty, week 3 of the NFL season.  It's the Steelers who have their guys pretty much, against a Colts team totally different without Peyton Manning.  The interesting thing is that Kerry Collins, as a starter, is 5-1 against the Steelers and has thrown more TD's than picks.  Last year, though, was different as he came in for the Titans after then-starting QB Vince Young got knocked out of the game.  The Steelers, of course, won that game.  This time, the Steelers are in the Colts' house in Indianapolis, the site for Super Bowl XLIV,  a place the Steelers are hoping to get to and win it all.

The Steelers' offense will face problems as usual.  Offensive line needs to protect Ben, and make sure he doesn't get any kind of injury.  The good news is that he still has receiving corps and the run game.  Bad news: he's got rookie right tackle Marcus Gilbert starting another game.  Ok, last week wasn't to bad, but who the heck has Dwight Freeney on their team?  Oh yeah, the Colts.  And there's still Robert Mathis, a guy who I don't pay a whole of attention to cause of Freeney, but is definitely an important defensive line player.  It's Freeney, though, who's the main defensive player for the Colts.  He's basically James Harrison for them.  Whether it's Freeney Gilbert's assigned to block, the Steelers' coaches better have a gameplan to stop the Colts' pass rush.  The Colts haven't been known to be a run stopping D, but the NFL is now more of a passing league.  Still, it couldn't hurt to use the run game against the Colts' run D, as it could soften up the Colts defense and/or make them cautious of the run game, making the passing game open up for the Steelers.  Or it could be done in reverse, where the run game is opened up due to the passing game.  Either way, Ben needs to have a better outing this time against the Colts.  Actually, according to Y! Sports, there's a lot of injury concerns heading into this game, and Freeney and Mathis are injured, though I'm sure they'll play.

A couple years ago in Pittsburgh, Ben threw some bad throws that were picked off and the team overall had trouble against the Colts.  Overall, Ben hasn't been great in the regular season against the Colts from what I can remember, other than the playoff win against the Colts in Indy.  Still, the offense needs to click, as they still need to open up the run game and protect Ben, who in turn needs to take good care of the ball and find his receivers.  The Steelers have to do what the Browns did last week, not necessarily the exact same, but close enough that the Steelers can put this game away against the Colts.

For the defense, the Steelers' pass D is still the first thing I'm worried about.  Yeah, Peyton isn't playing, but Collins has played against the Steelers before.  The Colts still have their receiving corps, including go-to receiver Reggie Wayne.  The Colts' offense, though, has suffered as seen with their 0-2 record.  Granted, they got blown out in week 1, but could've actually won last week against the Brownies.  They just ran into a team that has actual room for improvement, and Peyton Hillis is a running back beast.  This was due in part to the Colts offense just being stagnant for the most part, and Collins is actually listed on the list of injuries.  Who knows how this will affect the Colts offense, but there's no doubt that Peyton's injury has thrown the Colts for a loop.  In any case, regardless of who's the QB, the Steelers' secondary needs to step it up cause it isn't Seattle they're facing.  The Colts receiving corps is overall miles ahead of the Steelers', with match up nightmares abound for the Steelers' defensive backfield.  They need to be able to cover their guys well enough to prevent catches and TD's.  Also, Troy better get back into the thick of things, as he all but disappeared in week 1 against the Ravens and had a bit more presence last week against the Seahawks.  Still, the Steelers pass D needs to step it up and not let the Colts get into the game.

The Steelers also need to stop the Colts' running game, as that could help the Colts' passing game if they could get their running game going.  The Steelers aging D-line needs to step into the fountain of youth again, maybe even give more playing time or starting jobs to the younger guys like Ziggy Hood.  In any case, they need to pressure the QB, force turnovers, and stop the Colts' run game.  The defense, overall, needs to bring their A-game and keep building momentum if they want to win it all.

Special teams, eh, what else can I say?  That has also been a weak point, but there have been some bright spots.  Still would like to keep field position an advantage for us and the kicking game needs to be successful again when given the chance.  If Antonio Brown can get free with some blocks on punts and kickoffs, we'll be good.  The Steelers' special teams coverage also better keep the Colts deep within their own territory so that the Steelers can get good field position for their offense.

In the end, it's the coaches who have to get their guys prepared.  Both Mike Tomlin and Jim Caldwell have gone to Super Bowls in some capacity, and they know how to handle their players.  We just have to see how these two coaches do it.  Both are dealing with different issues of their own, and Caldwell's got the harder job with Peyton out.  Tomlin doesn't have that but he's got to keep his guys motivated after they reached the Super Bowl last year and they're still reeling mad from that week 1 beat down, that I'm sure of.  I still hope the Steelers win, but the Steelers are facing a desperate team in the Colts, who might be near out of the playoffs should they keep losing without Peyton at QB.

Overall, I say Steelers 28-20.  I still keep the scores close because even the best teams lose to teams they're either supposed to beat or should be able to win against.  The Colts are still a talented team, just without their franchise QB, but nothing's more dangerous than a wounded animal.  The Steelers will look to add another W to their record, and I hope I'm not worryingly overreacting with the Steelers.


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