INDIANAPOLIS – For the second straight season, the Colts will head to Pittsburgh.
Currently, the Colts sit in the No. 4 slot of the AFC playoff picture with the Steelers on the edge of a Wild Card berth.
Here are seven things to watch for in the Colts (6-5) and Steelers (6-5) meeting in Week 13:
1. Embrace The Environment
-When the NFL schedule came out in April, this Week 13 contest for the Colts was indicative of what this team could see in January. If the Colts are to make a run in January, this exact environment is going to stand in their way. The Colts have a great opportunity to not only earn a road victory, but potentially earn some cushion in the AFC South.
2. Quick Start
-Slow starts have plagued the Colts and Steelers this season. Going into a road, night game some early points from the Colts offense would be more than ideal. Last road, primetime game the Colts had, they were on the doorstep of beating the undefeated Panthers and that came after two turnovers to start the game.
3. Get To Big Ben
-In 49 pass attempts versus the Colts last season, Ben Roethlisberger wasn't sacked once. Robert Mathis watched helplessly last year and now he will be a major part in trying to change that narrative. So often with Big Ben, his impact plays come after he's bounced off a tackle. The Colts know they have to corral him all the way to the ground to avoid those off-script, back breaking, plays.
4. Open Field Tackling
-To be the NFL's most explosive offense, you have to make plays with the ball in your hand. That's exactly what Pittsburgh does, particularly at the wide receiver position. If the Colts can tackle well in space, that could be the difference in forcing punts versus keeping potential scoring drives alive.
5. Need More Gore
-Frank Gore is beat up. Yet, the 32-year-old running back didn't sit out practice this week as he tries to get back on track. Gore and the Colts running game will see the No. 7 ranked run defense on Sunday, continuing a trend against some of the league's best run defense units. Boom Herron is going to have to be ready to contribute as the new No. 2 back, behind the workhorse that is Gore.
6. Keeping Hasselbeck Clean
-In arguably the Colts most hostile environment of the year, they will likely have an offensive line with no projected starters at the spots they occupied in Training Camp. The line, along with Matt Hasselbeck whipping the ball out quickly, has prevented opposing pass rushes from really affecting the Colts offense. Will that continue in a rowdy, primetime, atmosphere?
7. AFC South Watch
-With five weeks remaining, the Colts and Texans sit at 6-5. The Colts have the tiebreaker due to their Week Five victory in Houston. Unless one team goes 2-0 in the next two weeks, and the other goes 0-2, the Week 15 matchup of the Colts/Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium will likely be a "winner take all" sort of game at Lucas Oil Stadium.