This is a massive game for two teams in the playoff hunt playing with backup quarterbacks. The Colts were dominated in Cincinnati, and the Steelers somehow lost to the Bailey Zappe-led New England Patriots. Both teams find their backs against the corner with very little room for error.
Shane Steichen will likely look back on his first season as Indianapolis Colts head coach as an unqualified success. He successfully dealt with Anthony Richardson’s injury and made Gardner Minshew into a potential playoff quarterback. Additionally, they went on a four-game winning streak at just under field goal odds in each win before Cincinnati outlasted their backup quarterbacks by 20 points last week in Cincinnati’s, where Michael Pittman Jr. managed 95 receiving yards without reaching paydirt.
Gardner Minshew averages 194.2 yards per game with an 11-8 touchdown-interception ratio. After Anthony Richardson was relieved of his duties by injury, Minshew will serve as their starter until further notice. Recent performances by Ryan have seen him throw for at least 240 yards in his last three games – passing for 312 against Tennessee. Zach Moss has emerged as a leadback due to Jonathan Taylor’s injury. Moss averages 62.6 yards per game with five touchdowns this season, while Michael Pittman Jr. leads in receiving yards with 75.7 per game and four touchdowns; Josh Downs has emerged as an additional receiver by adding 47.1 per game – plus having eight 20+ yard receptions!
The Pittsburgh Steelers are surprisingly alive in the AFC playoff race, currently sitting as the 6-seed. But their performance has been dismal recently as they’ve lost two close games they should have won against the Cardinals and Patriots as favorites, respectively, most notably making New England quarterback Bailey Zappe look competent enough to pass for 240 passing yards and three touchdowns! Starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky now due to Kenny Pickett being injured has not helped their cause either.
Trubisky has started both losses with Pittsburgh as quarterback, averaging 153.5 yards per game with two touchdowns and one interception for an average of 153.5 per game with a 14.0 PPG average over his two starts. Pittsburgh must generate more offense, given they only averaged 14.0 PPG while having him on their lineup over this span. The Steelers have been splitting time among two runners in their backfield; Najee Harris has been their power back, adding 53.1 yards per game and four touchdowns, while Jaylen Warren is a speed back who contributes 47.1 yards per game with three scores. Harris excels at short-yardage situations, while Warren is the breakaway runner and pass catcher. George Pickens stands out as their top receiver with an average catch rate of 58.0 yards per game and 16 receptions over 20 yards; Diontae Johnson provides another option in passing with 47.5 average catch rates; both players have scored three touchdowns this season.
To me this game is almost a lock, Minshew is worlds better than Trubisky and the Colts all-around look like the better team. Take the Colts -1.5. Colts 20 Steelers 10.
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