It is Week Thirteen in the National Football League (NFL), a time in the season when some games become very important. This Sunday afternoon’s contest between the visiting Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers is definitely one of those “critical” games – for both teams.
After twelve weeks, the Colts, a team that plays in the South Division of the American Football Conference (AFC), are in first place with a Won-Loss record of 6-5. They find themselves in a virtual tie with the Houston Texans, a squad that has also won six of eleven games played.
If the season ended today, Indianapolis would be in the playoffs. But, the truth is that there are still five games remaining to be played. And that makes the Colts hold on first place tenuous at best and its chances of playing in January still in question. As is the case for so many other teams in both conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the Colts have to keep winning the games they play.
The same can be said for this game’s home team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. This squad from Western Pennsylvania has also won six of eleven games played this year, but it finds itself in second place in the North Division of the AFC, three full games behind the 9-2 Cincinnati Bengals.
Pittsburgh’s chances of winning divisional honors are slim at best. Its best hope is to win one of two available Wild Cards. But, it will have to finish strongly if it wants to earn a Wild Card. There are many teams with similar Won-Loss records in the AFC so that the squad that wins most of its remaining games will have a good chance of advancing to postseason play.
Clearly, this upcoming contest is critically important to the visitors and to the home team. The Colts will take the field this weekend behind a back-up quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, while their franchise signal-caller, Andrew Luck, recovers from an injury. Pittsburgh will line up behind its franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger and that should give the home team an important advantage.
That said, Indianapolis has rallied behind its second string signal caller and seems to have “found its stride” in recent weeks. Its offense has been scoring points and its defense has tightened up and improved its performances over the past couple of games.
For its part, Pittsburgh has an explosive offense and a “passing game” that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing cornerbacks. Roethlisberger has the arm strength and the accuracy to connect with receivers all over the football field.
The defense the Colts put on the field will have to perform at a very high level for Indianapolis to keep the home team from reaching the end zone too frequently.
The squad that wins this game will dramatically improve its chances of playing meaningful games in January.
Courtesy of USA Today