Sat, 04 Feb 2023

Cheat Sheet: Steelers at Colts

The Steelers
26 Nov 2022, 05:30 GMT+10

Matt Williamson

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN

TV coverage: Broadcast nationally on ESPN, (WPXI-TV locally in Pittsburgh).Steelers Radio Network - Game coverage begins at 8:15 p.m. ET; Pregame programming begins at 4:15 p.m.; Postgame coverage starts immediately following the game.Don't miss a minute of the action... check out all of the ways that you can watch, listen and follow along on gameday. Click here >>>

INJURY UPDATE

The Steelers are on the road as they face the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Check out the most updated Injury Report: Click here >>>

SERIES HISTORY

This series began in 1950, but they met just three times before the 1970s. The Colts and Steelers split their first four meetings, but the Steelers are 24-4 since. Pittsburgh is on a seven-game winning streak as well with the most recent meeting happening in 2020. The Colts have won just two games against Pittsburgh in the 2000s, none in the 1990s, one in the '80s and two in the 70s. There have been five post season matchups between these franchises. Pittsburgh is undefeated in the playoffs against the Colts.

MATCHUP OVERVIEW

The Steelers offense produces 4.8 yards per play to 4.9 by Indianapolis, but the Colts are just producing 4.5 yards every time they snap the ball over their most recent three games. On defense, the Colts give up five yards per play to 5.8 allowed by Pittsburgh's defense. But in their last three games, Indianapolis has surrendered 4.4 yards per play.Indianapolis has won two of its five home games and have lost four of their last five.Pittsburgh has recovered a league-low two fumbles, compared to seven by the Colts. While Indianapolis has picked off opposing quarterbacks just four times. The Colts' 19 total giveaways is the most in the NFL. Both teams have thrown 10 interceptions, but Indianapolis' nine fumbles lost is the most in the league.Pittsburgh has now outrushed its opponents by 44 yards in 2022 and run for .3 more yards per attempt than it allows. The Steelers have eight rushing touchdowns compared to five for opponents.Heading into this week, the Steelers remaining strength of schedule based off win percentage is the sixth-most favorable in the league.The Steelers are 18-3 Monday Night Football under Mike Tomlin.

WHEN PITTSBURGH HAS THE BALL

The Steelers offense is up to 24th in EPA per play. They are up to seventh in rushing EPA.Indianapolis' defense is seventh in EPA per play. The Colts are 11th per dropback and fourth against the run.Indianapolis allows just 26.9 yards per drive. That is fourth-best in the league.In Week 11, Kenny Pickett led all NFL quarterbacks with 422 total air yards. He was the only quarterback in the league last week with over 400. Last week Pickett had a 10-yard average depth of target. That is the highest of his career and was second highest in the league in Week 11. Pickett also has 25 or more completions in three of his past four starts.Pickett has completed just seven passes of 10 or more air yards between the numbers.The 20 points Pittsburgh scored in the first half against the Bengals was their most in a first half of play this season.Despite missing a game, Pat Freiermuth now has the Steelers' most receiving yards. Last week, Freiermuth received a 32 percent target share, which was twice as much as the next closest Steelers receiver. Freiermuth has led Pittsburgh in target share in three of his last four games. Excluding Week 5 because of his injury, over his last five games Freiermuth averages a 25.7 percent target share and 9.4 targets per game. Among all NFL tight ends that have run 200 or more routes, Freiermuth is fifth in yards per route run as well as target share. The Colts give up 8.3 yards per target to opposing tight ends. That is 26th in the league.George Pickens is up to 1.21 yards per route run. Diontae Johnson comes in at 1.11.On average, Indianapolis gives up 113.5 yards per game to opposing wide receivers. Only the Broncos are better. The Colts have also only given up six touchdowns to the position all year.The Colts have the lowest blitz percentage in the entire league, bringing added pressure just 13.9 percent of the time. But they also have 28 sacks this year, which is 12th-best.The Steelers generate 4.2 yards per carry as a team. That is tied with Miami for 23rd. But over the past three games, Pittsburgh's 5.1 yards per carry is better than all but five teams.Only the 49ers give up less yards per carry than Indianapolis, as opposing runners generate just 3.8 yards per carry against the Colts. Over the past three games, they allow just 3.4 yards per rush.Since Week 4, Pickett ranks 10th in rushing attempts (29) and yards (165) among NFL quarterbacks.Opponents have run the ball 48 percent of time against them. Only three defenses have a higher percentage of runs against them.The Colts go to their dime defensive package with six defensive backs on the field just .3 percent of their total snaps this season.Indianapolis has three defensive players, Kenny Moore, Zaire Franklin and Stephon Gilmore, who have logged 705 snaps or more this year. But they don't have anyone else on defense that has played more than 623 plays. Just two defenders, Bobby Okereke and Rodney McLeod, that have played between 547 and 623 snaps in 2022.

WHEN INDIANAPOLIS HAS THE BALL

The Colts offense is dead last in EPA per play. They are 28th in EPA per dropback. Only the Buccaneers are worse in rushing EPA than Indianapolis' offense.On a per drive basis, only one offense is worse at turning drives into touchdowns and two are worse at turning drives into points than the Colts.Indianapolis throws the ball on 62.7 percent of its offensive plays. Just six teams throw it a higher percentage.Matt Ryan is 26th in EPA per play amongst quarterbacks, but Geno Smith is the only quarterback with a better completion percentage. Ryan is completing 72.4 percent of his passes. But Ryan's average depth of target is just 6.3 yards, which is near the bottom of the league. Ryan gets the ball out of his hands quick though with an average time to throw of 2.58 seconds. His air yards per attempt is the lowest in the NFL. Ryan also throws the ball on average 3.3 yards short of the sticks, which is also the lowest in the league.Michael Pittman produces 1.63 yards every time he runs a route. Alec Pierce comes in at 1.41 and Parris Campbell at 1.08. Of Pierce's targets, 22 percent come 20 yards or further downfield compared to 8.3 percent for Campbell and 2.2 percent for Pittman.In his last four games with Ryan under center, Campbell is averaging 9.5 targets per game. In those four games, Campbell has 29 catches for 270 yards.In Pittman's last four games with Ryan as the quarterback, he has been targeted 41 times. Pittman caught 32 of those 41 targets for 320 yards. Pittman has at least six receptions in five of his last six games.Last week, Pierce had an 89 percent route participation and led the group with a 27 percent target share.There is only one game this year in which a Colts tight end caught more than four passes.As for the Colts running backs, Jonathan Taylor is averaging .49 yards per route run against 1.35 by Deon Jackson.With Jackson healthy last week and Nyheim Hines now in Buffalo, Taylor played 74 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 11. Taylor ran a route on 58 percent of the Colts' dropbacks last week.For the season, Pittsburgh blitzes 29.9 percent of the time. That is the fifth-highest percentage in the league. Their 19 sacks on the season is better than only six defenses. Indianapolis has given up the most sacks in the league. In their three wins, Pittsburgh has 11 sacks. In seven losses, the Steelers have eight.As a team, Indianapolis averages 4.1 yards per rush attempt, 25th in the NFL. But over their most recent three games, the Colts are generating 4.9 yards per rush.The Steelers allow just 3.9 yards per carry this year. Only the 49ers and Colts are better. Over the past three games, the Steelers allow just 3.4 yards per rush.Taylor has missed two games this year. His 693 rushing yards is still 563 more than any other Colts player. Taylor averages 86.6 yards per game on the ground. Last week, Taylor rushed for 49 yards on the Colts' opening drive, but had only 35 yards on his 15 remaining carries against Philadelphia.T.J. Watt is the first player since the Vikings' Mike Merriweather (versus Detroit, 1989) to have two games with 0.5 or more sacks and one interception against a single opponent in the same season. The only other players to do so in the history of recorded sacks are Lawrence Taylor (1987) and Todd Bell (1984). Watt also is the only player since 2000 to have multiple games with 0.5 or more sacks and one interception in his first three games played in a season.The Colts have converted just two of 10 fourth down tries this year and are only converting 37 percent of their third down opportunities. They are last in the league converting fourth downs.Here is how Myles Jack, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane were used last week. Jack played 62 percent of the snaps, including 68 percent of the snaps on first and second downs and 30 percent of the third and fourth down snaps. Bush played 53 percent of the total snaps, 59 percent of the snaps on first and second downs, and just 20 percent of the third and fourth down plays. Spillane was on the field for 58 percent of the total snaps, 52 percent of the snaps on first and second downs, but 90 percent of the plays on third or fourth down.

SPECIAL TEAMS

With Steelers now are collectively 19 of 25 on their field goal attempts with three different kickers this year.Pittsburgh's opponents have missed just three field goals in 2022.

THE ADVANCED SCOUT PODCAST

Check out Matt's podcast preview on the Colts: Listen Here >>>

Most Memorable Moment:

AFC Divisional Playoffs, RCA Dome, January 15th, 2006: Steelers 21, Colts 18

This game had one of the most memorable moments in Steelers' history when Ben Roethlisberger tackled Nick Harper after a fumble to save the game and advance Pittsburgh to the AFC Championship. The usually ultra-reliable Jerome Bettis, one of the best goal-line runners in the history of the game, fumbled the ball at the goal line in the closing minutes. Harper picked up the loose ball and had all sorts of open space to win this game in heroic fashion for Indianapolis. But, of course, that isn't what transpired thanks to Roethlisberger. Even after that, Indianapolis could have tied the game, but Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field goal. The Colts were 14-2 that year and with home field advantage in the AFC playoff bracket, but it was Pittsburgh that won the next two games, including the Super Bowl.

FACTS FROM NFL RESEARCH

T.J. Watt has 1.5 sacks, 2 INT, 4 passes defensed in 3 games played in 2022 - 1 of only 2 players w/ multiple INT, 4+ PD and more than 1.0 sack in 2022 (also MIA Jevon Holland, who has played 10 games)The Steelers defense has pressured the QB on 31.6 pct of dropbacks with Watt on the field in 2022Kenny Pickett has had 0 giveaways in back-to-back gamesSince Pickett played his first game in Week 4, George Pickens leads the Steelers in rec yards (388) and rec TD (2, only player w/ multiple) - Pickens had 83 rec yards & 1 rec TD in Week 11 (first career game with 80+ rec yards and a touchdown)Diontae Johnson leads the Steelers in receptions (51) and Pat Freiermuth leads the team in rec yards (482) in 2022 - Johnson has most receptions (51) & receiving yards (456) among all players with 0 receiving touchdowns in 2022 - Pickens and Najee Harris are tied with team-high 2 rec TD in 2022Najee Harris has 189 rush yards in the last 2 games (94.5 rush YPG) after averaging 45.1 rush YPG in the first 8 weeks of the season - Harris's 2 highest rush yard totals of the season have come in the last 2 weeks (99 in Week 10 and 90 in Week 11)

KEY MATCHUPS

Colts LT Bernhard Raimann vs. Steelers EDGE Alex Highsmith - As always, Watt will demand a great deal of attention from the Colts. Braden Smith is a fine right tackle, but the Colts will surely help him plenty anyway. That should leave Highsmith one-on-one against Indianapolis' rookie left tackle, Raimann, a great deal of the time. After really struggling early this season, Raimann has played much better of late. Still, this is a matchup the Steelers need to win to best get to the immobile Ryan in the pocket.Steelers WRs Diontae Johnson and George Pickens vs. Colts CBs - Kenny Moore is possibly the best slot cornerback in the NFL, but he will rarely align over Johnson and Pickens when the Steelers are in 11 Personnel. Moore has played more snaps than any Colts defensive player this year and will see Johnson or Pickens on the outside when the Steelers have just two wide receivers on the field. Former NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner Stephon Gilmore is back to playing at an extremely high level on the outside. Pittsburgh might choose not to test Gilmore with much regularity.

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