Pittsburgh (5-5) at Indianapolis (5-5)
When: Thursday, November 24th 2016
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: NBC
The Indianapolis Colts will be without their franchise player on Thanksgiving night when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers in key game for both teams. Andrew Luck is going through the concussion protocol and with a short week to prepare, seems unlikely to go. That puts the Colts’ two-game winning streak on the line as Scott Tolzien will get the start for the 5-5 Colts, who are just a game behind Houston in the AFC South. Tolzien has played in six games in his six-year career and is 56-of-91 for 721 yards with a touchdown and five interceptions. The Colts may try to lean more on a ground game led by Frank Gore (642 yards, four touchdowns), but they rank 25th in the league in rushing. Safety Clayton Geathers was also placed in concussion protocol after Sunday’s game and cornerback Vontae Davis is questionable with an ankle injury, leaving the Colts’ passing defense (32nd) in a tough situation against Roethlisberger, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes in his last two games against Indianapolis. Kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt last week, breaking his the NFL-record streak of 44 consecutive conversions. The Colts won’t play again until next Monday night at the New York Jets.
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Ben Roethlisberger, who has been through the concussion protocol in the past, had some advice for Luck. “I will tell him, and this has nothing to do with football, but just to be smart,” Roethlisberger told reporters. “The brain is nothing to mess with. He is young and has a long career ahead of himself.” Roethlisberger and the Steelers crushed Indianapolis last season 45-10, but Big Ben’s wide receiver corps is a bit banged-up. Wide receiver Sammie Coates is dealing with three broken fingers, Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot) is out and Marcus Wheaton (shoulder) has landed on injured reserve. He still has his top target in Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL with 77 receptions and is fourth with 907 yards. Running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for over 100 yards against the Browns last week for the first time since Week 4, but he’s been helping out the team with his pass catching. Bell is second on the team with 53 receptions for 415 yards. Pittsburgh snapped a four-game losing streak last week with a 24-9 win over Cleveland and are now tied with Baltimore for first place in the AFC North.
When this lined opened up at Pittsburgh -3, I was ready to jump all over it. Then came the news that Luck wouldn’t play and now the line stands at 9. I’m still going to take Pittsburgh, because I don’t think there’s anyway in the world that Indianapolis can stop them. Tolzien has played in only six games in six years for a reason – he stinks. Pittsburgh rolls tonight.
Pick: Steelers -9