Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 49 o/u)
The Indianapolis Colts (6-5, 3-2 Away) and Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, 4-2 Home) are both 6-5, however, their road to the playoffs is markedly different. Indy sits atop the subpar AFC South and have a great shot at a division title and home playoff game, while the Steelers trail the Bengals by three games in the AFC North and will need to claim a Wild Card spot in order to be playing in January. The Colts and Steelers will shed a little more light on the AFC playoff picture tonight when they meet at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football (5:30 PM Eastern).
The Colts started the season terribly, getting uncharacteristically poor quarterback play from preseason MVP favorite Andrew Luck. But Luck is now out of the lineup due to injury, and 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck has led the team to two straight wins, including a 25-12 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend. The veteran pivot threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the win, and brought his record as a starter to 4-0 for the season.
“Obviously, at his age, being 4-0 as a backup quarterback, it’s great for us,” coach Chuck Pagano said to the Associated Press. “We’re very, very fortunate and I just hope he keeps it going.”
Hasselbeck’s other wins haven’t exactly come against the cream of the crop in the NFL, though; Indy has also downed Atlanta, Houston, and Jacksonville with Hasselbeck under center. Going against the Steelers’ nearly unstoppable offense this week will require the aging QB to muster even more. Pittsburgh averages 24.2 points per game, and have posted that number with both star RB Le’Veon Bell and starting QB Ben Roethlisberger missing significant chunks of time. With Ben back in the lineup, the Steelers have put up at least 30 in each of their last three games.
Roethlisberger came out of last week’s 39-30 loss to the Seahawks late in the fourth quarter with concussion symptoms, but looks to be ready for this weekend’s all-important tilt.
“I said I didn’t know the results then, but I felt good because when I left the training room the trainers told me this looks good,” Roethlisberger told the AP. “Don’t see why this would be an issue. That’s why I said I didn’t have a concussion and would be ready to go.”
Betting-wise, the Steelers are 7-3 ATS in their last ten games following a straight up loss. They’re also 9-1 SU in their last ten at home against the Colts. Hasselbeck has been better than anyone could reasonably expect of a 40-year-old back up, but his magical run is eventually going to come to an end. Expect it to be this week and roll with the Steelers to cover the touchdown spread.
Pick: Steelers -7.
(Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)
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