Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) at Indianapolis Colts (0-2, 0-2 ATS)
Sunday September 25th, 2011. 8:20PM EST, NFL Football Week 3
Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, IN
By Jay Horne, NFL Handicapper Predictem.com
Point Spread: Pit -10.5/IND +10.5
Over/Under Total: 38.5
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In the opening week of the season, the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Colts were completely blown out by Houston 34-7 as they started life without Peyton Manning. Even more shocking was the way the Pittsburgh Steelers were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens 35-7. The Steelers have been a threat each year to make a run at an AFC Championship and this year is expected to be no different from years past.
However, the loss to the Ravens really raised some questions. Luckily for Steelers fans, the team did bounce back with a solid performance last week by shutting out the Seahawks 24-0. Unfortunately for Colts fans, Indianapolis did not rebound last week and suffered another embarrassing loss to Cleveland 27-19. This week the Colts look to regain some confidence as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers inside Lucas Oil Stadium for a primetime Sunday night meeting.
Can anyone remember the last time the Colts were a double digit underdog at home? Yes, the Colts are finding out just how difficult life is without star QB Peyton Manning who had to undergo a 2nd neck surgery just prior to the start of the season. Backup QB Kerry Collins was brought out of retirement for the opportunity to fill in for Manning. However, Collins has been less than spectacular to say the least completing only 50.7% passing for 388 yards with 2 scores and 1 pick. In fact, Collins has taken the appearance of an inexperience rookie rather than a 14 year veteran.
Collins has not made good decisions, thrown bad passes, and in some cases failed to get rid of the football resulting in 5 sacks through the first 2 games. If the Colts are going to turnaround their disastrous start, Collins simply must play better to give WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark a chance to catch the football. Wayne currently leads the team in the passing game with 11 receptions for 172 yards, but there have been some missed opportunities as well. For Clark, he has caught just 8 passes for 71 yards on the season. Before missing the latter part of 2010 with an injury, Clark posted over 1,100 receiving yards in 2009 and definitely needs to become more involved in the passing game.
Unfortunately for the Colts, they will have to solve their offensive problems against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Steelers have allowed just 274 yards per game through the opening two weeks of the season and had the 2nd overall defense in the league in 2010. The Steelers get after opposing quarterbacks extremely well and have already captured 6 sacks on the season. Therefore, expect the Steelers defense to get some pressure on Collins in attempt to force some turnovers when they take the field this Sunday night.
For the Steelers offense, QB Ben Roethlisberger had a terrible start against the Ravens by tossing 3 interceptions while completing just 58% passing. However, the Steelers quarterback bounced back with a solid outing last week completing 73% for 298 yards with 1 touchdown and 0 picks. The offense has received a boost from the emerging talent of WR Mike Wallace. Wallace has racked up the 4th most yards (233) out of any receiver in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season. Wallace delivered a big 53 yard touchdown reception last week against the Seahawks which officially blew the game open.
However, the Steelers can also run the ball behind running back Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall rushed for just less than 1,300 yards in 2010, but has been held to 111 yards through the first two games of the year. This week I expect Mendenhall to be a much bigger factor against a Colts defense that is giving up 135 yards per game on the ground. Most importantly the entire offense just needs to be consistent and not give the struggling Colts offense any free chances on the short field by turning the ball over. If the Steelers hold on to the ball, they will definitely have the advantage.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I just do not see any end to the misery for the Colts and the Steelers will not back down on the Sunday night stage. This game gets ugly. Pittsburgh -10.5.
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