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Thanksgiving Football: Steelers at Colts Week 12 Total Bet

Pittsburgh Steelers(5–5) @ Indianapolis Colts(5–5)

  • Where: Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis, Indiana
  • When: November 24, 2016 8:30 pm EST
  • Spread: Steelers -3 (-120) vs. Colts +3 (even)
  • Moneyline: Steelers -155 vs. Colts +135
  • Over / Under: Over 54 (-105) vs. Under 54 (-115)

After an entire day of eating, watching football, and avoiding conversations with in-laws, by the time the Thanksgiving night game rolls around you’re usually ready to ride the waves of tryptophan and start snoozing. Perhaps this is one reason why the night game on Thanksgiving is often a terrible game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers travelling to play the Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium is not a terrible game. Here we have two solid teams in two of the worst divisions in the entire league, both at 5–5, both trying to make the leap from the middle of the pack into genuine playoff contention.

While the news that Andrew Luck remains in the concussion protocol certainly makes this game a little more one-sided, it should nonetheless provide not only entertainment this Thanksgiving, but it may also hold value for interested parties.

Let’s take a look at these two teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers Playing Uninspired Football

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been in a slump for about a month, with their overall stock lumped inextricably to that of their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. During Big Ben’s recovery from a torn meniscus, the Steelers managed only 15, 16, and 14 points in three consecutive losses. Subsequently, the rolling Dallas Cowboys handed them another loss despite their scoring 30 points in the game.

Even last week, in what should have been a ‘get back on track’ victory over the woeful Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh only scored one touchdown, on four attempts. And even that touchdown could have easily gone the other way, requiring a fourth-down attempt on the goal line as time expired in the first half.

Big Ben and the Steelers offense are not playing up to form just yet. However, despite how disappointing their play has been compared to preseason hopes, the Steelers are nonetheless very much in the playoff hunt.

With the Browns already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and the Bengals losing A.J. Green for the season, it’s a two-team race for the division. And with the Ravens giving up their 1-game lead in a road loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the AFC North is now wide open.

Luckily for anyone who owns a Terrible Towel, the Steelers schedule down the stretch is one of the easier schedules in the league, with very winnable games against the Giants, Bills, Bengals, and Browns. Other than playing the Ravens Week 16, this Colts game might have been their toughest test with a healthy Andrew Luck.

As things stand now, though, the stars look like they are starting to align for the Steelers, who could potentially start a two-game win streak this week and then ride their easy schedule into a lead in the division and a run into the playoffs.

The Colts Are This Season’s Jekyll-and-Hyde Team

The Indianapolis Colts, from one perspective, are one of the most heartbreaking teams in football over the last several years.

It is abundantly clear that Andrew Luck has all of the attributes necessary to develop into not only one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but perhaps even one of the best quarterbacks of all time. However, every year he is near the top of the list for sacks, and this year he currently leads the league, being sacked 35 times in 10 games.

Astonishingly, the Indianapolis Colts have done almost nothing to address their needs on the offensive line, putting their greatest asset and top investment in harm’s way each and every game.

This is one reason why the Colts have been so unpredictable this year: from Week 2 until their bye, in Week 10, the Colts flip-flopped between a loss and a win eight times in a row, never stringing together multiple wins or multiple losses. Indianapolis has lost to bad teams, like their Week 4 loss to the Jaguars, and they have also beaten good teams, like their Week 3 win over the San Diego Chargers.

But the chickens are coming to roost this week for the Colts, with Andrew Luck finally sustaining the injury that you would think is inevitable with 35 sacks. He is currently stranded in the concussion protocol, and with the game being played on Thursday this virtually ensures that Luck will not be cleared to play against the Steelers.

Even if he is physically devoid of concussion symptoms, the concussion protocol is now so extensive and time-consuming that it would be virtually impossible for him to be cleared for live game action in time for Thursday’s matchup.

This means that backup Scott Tolzein will be in for Indianapolis, who has not played a snap of regular season action as a Colt and has not started a game since 2013, when he played two full games for the Green Bay Packers.

With the Texans falling to the Raiders in Mexico and the Colts beating the division rival Tennessee Titans last week, the AFC South has three teams with 5 or 6 wins, and really any of those three could emerge to take the division down the stretch.

However, while they certainly have something to play for, the loss of both Luck and safety and leading tackler Clayton Geathers to the concussion protocol is likely to be too much adversity for the Colts to overcome.

Why I’m Taking the Under for Pittsburgh–Indi

While we’ve seen backup quarterbacks win games against good teams, this is generally when they come into offenses with a developed running game and an intelligent scheme (e.g. the Patriots’ first four games). As Andrew Luck accounts for both 25% of the Colts’ rushing yards this season as well as a large portion of the play-calling responsibilities, he’s more or less irreplaceable.

So it seems a very safe bet that the Colts will not be able to move the ball or score in this matchup with Scott Tolzein at the helm. The only threat to taking the under, then, is the Steelers.

However, with their receivers in a funk and their quarterback still not 100%, it’s likely that the bulk of the offensive workload will fall to running back Le’Veon Bell, who touched the ball a career-high 36 times against the Cleveland Browns last week.

For this reason, while I do see the Steelers getting back on track against the Luck-less Indianapolis Colts, I doubt the scores will run up very high in this game.

I predict a final score of 27–9, Pittsburgh, and I recommend the under in this matchup, listed at 54 at the Bovada sportsbook.

David HeinenThis article was written by David Heinen

David Heinen is a freelance psychology writer by day, inveterate NFL junkie by night. Born and raised on the Green Bay Packers, David is a die-hard Cheesehead, not to mention a cheese enthusiast in his spare time.

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