By Conor Perrett
Monday Night Football is back, as Jeff Saturday gets ready for his third game in his coaching career by hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Both teams have spent the majority of the season being underwhelming, but don’t let their records put you off as they have both looked on the rise recently.
Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1)
Power Rankings – 24th
DVOA Rankings: Offence – 32nd, Defence – 10th, ST – 28th: Overall – 29th
At first glance Indy’s DVOA rankings are pretty awful.
There’s no getting around how poor of a start they had to the season, but in the last two weeks under a new interim coach, they’ve seen improvement. The main reasoning for their turnaround is the lack of turnovers now. During the first half of the season the offence collectively had 16 total turnovers.
Even though it’s a small sample size, under Saturday now the ball has only been turned over once. With a lot more mistake free football being played.
Off-season acquisition Matt Ryan is back in at quarterback and running back Jonathon Taylor is back to being utilised. Last year’s rushing leader Taylor couldn’t get anything going at the start of this season but now the Colts have had over 300 rushing yards the last two games.
Whether Jeff Saturday gets the permanent job at the end of the season is still a long way off, but he has definitely turned this team around for the best.
With the NFL recently leaning towards the young offensive genius as head coach, the appreciation for motivational leaders in the same position shouldn’t go unnoticed. Mike Vrable started the trend a few years ago having a ton of success in Tennessee winning Coach of the Year. Detroit is seeing a turnaround with Dan Campbell leading the way. So it shouldn’t be a surprise Saturday is following their lead.
It’s very early on but the Colts look like they’re in a lot better position than they did before his appointment.
- DE Kwity Paye (Ankle)
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7)
Power Rankings – 27th
DVOA Rankings: Offence – 22nd, Defence – 14th, ST – 17th: Overall – 20th
The Steelers have followed a similar trajectory to the Colts, with a poor start to the season but improvement over the last two games. Their superstar player TJ Watt returned to the defence during that time and clearly it is showing the spark he brings to the team.
The offence has seen the most improvement over that span with rookie Kenny Pickett starting to put things together. With weapons such as George Pickens, Diontae Johnson and Pat Friermuth, there’s a lot to go around. The passing game has been ignored at times as Pittsburgh ranks last in passing yards and touchdowns but the run game is starting to come together.
Najee Harris has failed to repeat his standout 2021 season, but he was quietly playing with a steel plate in his shoe through the start of the season and may just now be healed. The last two games he’s got into the endzone twice, while getting over 90 yards on the ground in both games. His yards per carry is up as well and it’s helping the offence out massively.
Indy is a great team at stopping the run, ranking 6th in EPA per rush, so we’ll see tonight how much this offence really has improved.
- CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Hamstring)
- RB Jaylen Warren (Hamstring)
These teams are very alike in their improvement over the last two weeks, but possess quarterbacks who have struggled over the whole of the season.
It comes down to which team can get pressure from their defence to make the quarterback crack and the Steelers may have both the better defence and pass rush to do that. TJ Watt’s return has been huge and adds a sense of impact to a game that very few in this league can do.
I like the matchup for this Steelers’ D and think they could have a big impact on the way this game is won. Along with Pickett showing vast improvement scoring 30 points on a Bengals defence last week, I think the Steelers win this one on the road.
Steelers 19-17 Colts