Each week, Colts.com will speak with a writer who covers the team the Colts are set to play that upcoming week.
In Week 15, the Colts are facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Lucas Oil Stadium. To gain more insight, we caught up with Dale Lolley, a contributing writer and editor for Steelers.com.
Colts.com: With their latest loss to the New England Patriots, the Steelers are one of six 7-6 AFC teams vying for a Wild Card spot. As the playoff race gets down to the wire, how have you seen the Steelers respond to the pressure?
Dale Lolley: Tuesday's practice was one of the most loose practices I've seen this team have all season. They had a bad week last week. Unfortunately for them, they happened to play two games in a five-day period and it wasn't the time to have a bad week. Mike Tomlin has been through this before. The energy and message comes from the top.
Colts.com: With Kenny Pickett out following ankle surgery, Mitchell Trubisky made his first start of the season last Thursday. Have there been any updates regarding Pickett's status? And if not, what can be expected of the Steelers' offense with Trubisky under center?
Dale Lolley: Pickett will not play in this game. He's likely also out the following week against Cincinnati. The offense doesn't change with either quarterback at the helm. It's still going to be a ball-control, run-oriented attack with some occasional shots down the field.
Colts.com: After making a splash as a rookie, George Pickens has nearly topped his 2022 production through the first 13 games of this season. How has his game evolved from his first year to his second year with the team?
Dale Lolley: Pickens has gotten better in his route running, though he's still got room for improvement. He's definitely a player who demands a double-team because of his ability to win 50-50 balls downfield. But he's run more stuff to the middle of the field this year than he did a year ago.
Colts.com: As has been the case for nearly his entire career, T.J. Watt remains one of, if not the best pass rusher in the NFL. what about Watt's game makes him one of the NFL's best, but if he doesn't play, how do the Steelers make up for his absence?
Dale Lolley: Watt is a technician. He's so good with his hands and wins so often with that. He also has an ability to meld one move into another. He always has a plan when rushing the passer. And he's relentless both rushing the passer and against the run. If Watt were to happen to not play — which doesn't look as if it will be the case — the Steelers have veteran Markus Golden and rookie Nick Herbig behind him. Both have had their moments this season.
Colts.com: This season, the Steelers average 16.2 points per game, which is fifth-lowest in the NFL. On the opposite sideline, the Colts offense averages 24.2 points per game. In your opinion, what does the Steelers offense need to do to make sure they can keep pace with the Colts if the latter does come out of the gate firing on all cylinders?
Dale Lolley: Run the football. The Colts can't score if they're not on the field. The Steelers have averaged 151.3 rushing yards per game over their past six games. And that includes getting just 82 yards last week against New England's top-rated run defense — at least in EPA. The Colts have allowed 147 yards rushing per game in their past seven games.