The Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1) will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7) on Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium for a Week 12 matchup.
The Steelers are essentially out of the playoff race with the second-worst record in the AFC while the Colts currently hold the No. 10 seed in the conference. A loss for the Colts essentially boots them out of any hope of making a late-season run for a wild-card spot.
Both teams come into this game with struggles on the offensive side of the ball. The Steelers have lost three of their last four games while the Colts have lost four of their last five.
Here are the keys to victory for the Colts in Week 12:
Offensive Line must hold up
AP Photo/Don Wright
At this point in the season, we can only hope that offensive line will do all they can to not wreck the game. Completely stopping a strong pass rush like the Steelers is virtually impossible considering what the Colts have shown through 11 games this season.
T.J. Watt is back healthy after missing significant time while Cameron Hayward continues to be one of the best interior pass rushers in the game. Second-year pass rusher Alex Highsmith is enjoying a strong sophomore campaign as well.
Much of this falls on the shoulders of rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann and right guard Will Fries. If they can at least limit the pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan, the offense will have a chance to put some points on the board.
Make Kenny Pickett win the game
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The Colts defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. According to Football Outsiders, the Colts have the 10th-best overall defense and the sixth-best rushing defense in terms of DVOA.
Their focus will first be on stopping Najee Harris and the rushing attack. Forcing the Steelers offense to be one dimensional is crucial here, especially with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett taking the helm. Pickett hasn't proven he can take over a game yet while completing 65.4% of his passes for 1,426 yards, three touchdowns and eight interceptions in six starts.
The Steelers are 2-4 in his six starts and have scored more than 20 points just one time during that stretch. Putting an extra man in the box, and forcing Pickett to beat them is the mindset the defense should have.
WRs need to take over
AP Photo/Justin Berl
It's vital for the wide receivers to take over this game. Of course, the offensive line has to hold up enough for Matt Ryan to go through his progressions and for the route concepts to develop. But this is a matchup the Colts have to exploit.
The Steelers defense has allowed the third-most receiving yards to wide receivers (2,075) and tied for the most touchdown receptions (14) this season. Over the last five weeks, they've allowed the eighth-most receiving yards (762) and tied for the third-most touchdowns (five) to the position.
This means the duo of Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell have to be heavily involved while rookie Alec Pierce must get his opportunities downfield.
The Colts don't have many favorable matchups for the passing game coming up so they have to take advantage of these opportunities.
Consistency is key
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We thought the Colts offense may have found something when they put together their first scoring drive on an opening drive this season in Week 11. After that, however, was a complete disaster.
Scoring early and often is an obvious key for every offense in the NFL. But the Colts have rarely strung together multiple consecutive drives of moving the ball this season. They'll look solid on one drive but then fail to build on that momentum.
Limiting the self-inflicted wounds will go a long way in this game because this matchup may be determined simply by who makes the fewest mistakes.
Story originally appeared on Colts Wire