INDIANAPOLIS – A chance to run their win streak to six games awaits the Colts in Pittsburgh this weekend.
The Colts (5-2) will play their third AFC North-game of the season in Week Eight with a road contest versus the Steelers (4-3).
What should fans be looking for when the Colts travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon?
1. Becoming A Road Act
-The Colts will take their act on the road the next two weeks for the last two such contests until the month of December. "Renegade" has been the song of choice at Colts practice this week to signal what players and coaches will deal with as Heinz Field goes under the lights Sunday afternoon/evening. In a "where did this stat come from" statement---Ben Roethlisberger is 17-1 all-time at home during the month of October.
2. Minimize Big Plays
-With elite skill players like Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the Steelers have the capability for instantaneous big plays in the run or pass game. During this five-game win streak, the Colts defense has been stout in limiting such chunk plays. Forcing offenses to sustain long drives has been a major reason why the Indianapolis defense ranks in the top five of points allowed.
3. More Offensive Balance
-Last week was the ideal offensive blueprint for how the Colts want to operate. Major production came through the air and on the ground versus the Bengals. Now, with injury questions in both of those areas (Trent Richardson and Reggie Wayne) a semblance of offensive balance will once again be needed, especially in such a hostile environment.
4. Win The Special Teams
-Heinz field is known as one of the more difficult stadiums in the NFL for kickers. No kicking duo has been better this year than the Colts' Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri. The Colts lead the league in opponent starting field position, a stat that shouldn't be overlooked when explaining why the defense has played so well this season.
5. Weather The Storms
-The Steelers were in a 13-0 first-half hole last Monday night before it all changed. A three-minute span included a 24-0 run and the Steelers went from a possible 3-4 team to the right side of .500 heading into this week. Chuck Pagano is a veteran of matchups in Pittsburgh and he knows his team's ability to "weather the storms" will be crucial in a semi-primetime matchup.
6. Neutralize Bell And Blount
-In Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, the Colts will see one of the game's better running back duos. Bell and Blount can be punishing backs and from a pure running back standpoint, this is the toughest matchup the Colts will see in the trenches. The Eagles' LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles wanted to run away from you. Bell and Blount don't mind running through you.
7. Sustaining Momentum
-For the first time since 2009, the Colts are winners of five straight games. The Colts have a two game-lead on the AFC South and are a legitimate contender at the top of the conference. A pair of road contests the next two weeks (at PIT, at NYG), and a chance to get to 7-2, awaits the Colts before a Week 10 bye. The Colts have the potential to take a pretty impressive mark into a bye before a home Sunday night matchup against the New England Patriots comes in Week 11.