This game is the most important of the season to this point for Pittsburgh, and these are the three keys to leaving Lucas Oil Stadium 8-6 with the playoffs still in sight.
1. Contain Zack Moss
Moss was leading the NFL in rushing at one point this season before Jonathan Taylor returned to the team. With Taylor back on the shelf with injury, Moss is once again the bellcow of the offense, and he’s been really good in that role. He currently sits at 751 rushing yards on 4.3 yards per attempt. The Steelers have had success stopping the run this season, as they sit at eighth in defensive rush success rate.
I’d say something along the lines of “Make Gardner Minshew beat you,” but I said that about Bailey Zappe, and the secondary said, “Hold by beer.” Regardless, make the Colts be one-dimensional.
2. Prevent big plays in the middle of the field
Indianapolis is 27th in depth of target, but 10th in the NFL in targeting the middle. This is the third consecutive top 10 team the Steelers are facing in that category, and each of the previous two teams ate them up. The Colts also love to move around Michael Pittman and have him catch shallow and intermediate in-breakers. More often than not, he turns those catches into big YAC yards. The Steelers have got to start limiting these big plays in the secondary. New England carved them up with big completions, and the Steelers have had trouble tackling this season (see Week 13 as the most recent example. While the Colts lack elite weapons, they are still a top 10 scoring team in the NFL- the Steelers can’t take them lightly.
3. Feed George Pickens
We can say all we want about how George Pickens has gone about handling his emotions, and how he may not be portraying his thoughts in a manner that is helpful to the team. That said, he isn’t wrong when he says he’s not being utilized properly. More than any other team in the NFL, the Steelers live in their fears and tuck their tail offensively. Take some shots to Pickens. Mitch Trubisky was more than comfortable doing that last season, and they connected on multiple deep shots throughout the season (vs. Browns, Ravens, and Panthers in particular). You drafted this incredibly gifted receiver for a reason, and that reason was not to only catch screens and run hitch patterns- give him a couple nine routes and see what happens. Because for the love of God this offense, and this team, needs a spark. Let it rip and go bombs away to No. 14.