By Danny Cox

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ dominating victory over the Cleveland Browns Sunday is just what the team needed to get back on track and stay tied atop the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens. In Week 12, the Steelers will travel on a short week to take on the Indianapolis Colts on Thanksgiving night.

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After a marginal start to the 2016 season resulting in a 5-5 record through 10 games, the Colts are picking up momentum. They have won two in a row and are not far behind the Houston Texans in the AFC South. The Colts will need to battle each week for the duration of the season to stay in contention. However, they might be without one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL come Thursday. Andrew Luck has been placed in the concussion protocol after suffering an injury during their win against the Tennessee Titans last week.

Indianapolis Colts Season Record: 5-5

It was a rough start to the season for the Colts, who started out 1-3 and then 2-4 before getting back on track. They have now won two in a row in rather impressive fashion. Two weeks ago, the Colts went into Lambeau Field and defeated the Green Bay Packers. Last week, they took down the resurgent Tennessee Titans. Unfortunately for the Steelers, the Colts are starting to find their groove.

Colts On Offense

Offensively, the Colts live and die by Andrew Luck and that should come as no surprise. He’s having an MVP-type season even though his team is sitting at .500. Luck has passed for almost 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing just eight interceptions so far this season. However, their star quarterback is wounded and the Colts could be forced to start Scott Tolzien, a 29-year-old career backup with just two NFL starts if Luck is not cleared to play.

With question marks at quarterback, the Steelers will also look to exploit the Colts’ offensive line. So far in 2016, Luck has been sacked 35 times. The fact that running back Frank Gore has not produced a solid run game doesn’t offer much help regardless of who the starting quarterback is come Thursday.

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Colts On Defense

The Colts are prone to giving up a lot of points this year. So far in 2016, the Colts have held just one opponent to less than 20 points and that was Tennessee. They’ve given up 30 or more points on four occasions and have a lot of holes in their defensive line and secondary.

The Colts have forced just eight turnovers on the year (three interceptions, five fumbles) but do have 22 sacks as a team. Some players such as Robert Mathis and D’Qwell Jackson stand out, but it’s hard for them to do everything on their own. The Colts’ defense can be exposed and the Steelers must use Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to do it.

Colts Players To Watch: WR Donte Moncrief and LB Erik Walden

The team’s top target has been wide receiver T.Y. Hilton who leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Still, there is one name that has been mentioned often this season and it is receiver Donte Moncrief. On the season, he has just 18 receptions, but four of them have been on scoring plays. Moncrief knows how to snake his way through defenses and make it into the end zone.

As stated earlier, the Colts have 22 sacks as a team but almost half of them have come from one player. Linebacker Erik Walden is having the best season of his career as he has already racked up eight sacks (career high) and forced two fumbles.The veteran is fast, strong, and will cause havoc for Big Ben if he is not contained.

Outlook

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If the Pittsburgh Steelers play like they did against the Cleveland Browns, they can hang with anyone in the league. Play like they did during their four-game losing streak and the Colts have a great chance to secure a win. The Indianapolis Colts are also in a big battle for their divisional crown and are going to leave everything out on the field. In order for the Steelers to keep their winning ways going, they will need to play hard-nosed defense regardless of who the Colts starting quarterback is Thursday.