Paralysis by Analysis – Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts


I’m going to change it up, Citizens. Instead of giving you the usual recap of the previous game or preview of the next game, I’m going to give you what the numbers say should happen based on the stats of the team the Mighty Black and Gold will face and the stats the Steelers posted.

So this is it. The day they told you about in high school when mathematics would save your life.

Fact – The Steelers’ running game is not great

Whether it is play calling or the inability of the offensive line to get any push, the Steelers are not running the ball well. One of the things the Steelers are known for is running the ball and right now they are having all the success Charlie Sheen has with not boning whores he picks up Sunset Blvd. Rashard Mendenhall is 72nd in the league with 3.6 yards per carry. Isaac Redman is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, which is good for 43rd in the league, but he is not the featured back in the offense, so his carries are limited.

Admittedly, they were playing from behind while getting trucked by the Ravens and were not rushing the ball during the second half of that game. However, this should have been offset by the fact that they were holding a considerable lead in the Seattle game. Think about it: Mendenhall did not get 100 yards in a game in which the Steelers never trailed and were in no real danger of losing.

Want some good news? The Colts defense is not built for playing from behind. What does that mean? It means that when the Colts built their defense, they built it with the thought that Peyton Manning would be commanding the offense. News flash: Peyton Manning will be holding a clipboard and not fondling Jeff Saturday’s danglers for the foreseeable future.

Kerry Collins may have been a capable QB in the past, but since his 150th birthday, he has declined a bit. Collins is 27th in the league for passing yards per game (194.0). He’s got two rookies ahead of him on that list.

When Manning is under center, all the Colts’ defense has to do is keep them in the game until Peyton gives them the lead. This plays into the defense’s strength because they are small and fast, and have an excellent pass rush. If they are playing from behind, and have to try to stop the opposing team from running, they are out of their element and can be taken advantage of.

Need proof that the Colts can be run on? They are ranked 29th in rushing yards per game. The Texans’s running back put 116 yards on the Colts. Did I mention the running back of the Texans was not Arian Foster? Second year man Ben Tate had 4.8 yards per carry in a dominating win over the Colts.

How did the Colts respond to that? They allowed the Browns’ Peyton Hillis to rush for 94 yards and two scores.

This could be a good chance for Mendy to get his first 100-yard game of the year.

Fact – Mike Wallace is off to a great start

Citizens of The Nation will already know this, but Mike Wallace is really, really good. Wallace is averaging 116.5 yards per game for the two games played. He has caught 16 passes and 14 of those have been for first downs. He is quickly becoming Big Ben’s go to guy when a big play is required.

The Colts’ defense, which is made to defend the pass, is better than their rush defense, but they are not playing at a very high level right now either.

The Colts are tied for 28th in the league for sacks and 23rd in passing yards per game. They have only allowed two passing touchdowns, but when you’ve allowed four rushing touchdowns in two games, teams don’t have to throw on you too much.

Getting back to Mike Wallace, he is 5th in the league for receiving yards, tied for 5th in average yards per game, and 2nd in receptions. These numbers put him among the elite of receivers in the league.

Even if you double cover Wallace, think about what that leaves you. You have Tony Brown and Manny Sanders against your other defensive backs. You have to think about Heath Miller against a safety or linebacker, a mismatch either way. And, you still have to think about future hall-of-famer Hines Ward, the very definition of a possession receiver.

These are the issues that usually make defensive coordinators fits. Of course, all of this is predicated on the offensive line protecting Ben-Ro long enough to deliver the ball to one of these great receivers.

The good news is the Colts are getting to quarterbacks about as often as Rosie O’Donnell gets to Victoria’s Secret. They have two sacks in their two games. Perennial Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney and his line-mate Robert Mathis each have one sack. That’s it.

If the Steelers’ O-line can keep those two guys off Big Ben, the Steelers should be able to make some things happen with Wallace and the rest of the receiving corps.

Fact – The Steelers’ defense had one bad game

Ray Rice and the Ravens set rushing defense in the Steel City back by some forty years on opening day. The vaunted Steel Curtain looked old and slow against the Ravens.

The Steelers are currently ranked 12th in the league in rushing yards per game allowed. It’s not horrible, but it not what Citizens of The Nation are accustomed to.

Facing the Seahawks and the Colts without Peyton Manning is just what the doctor ordered. Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks is averaging 22 yards per game, thanks in no small part to the Steelers holding him to a scant 11 yards.

Joseph Addai comes into this game averaging 51.5 yards per game having played two defenses not generally known for their stout rushing defense (Houston and Cleveland).

The fact that Manning will not be playing in this game is a lucky break on the order of when William Hung learned the words to “She Bangs.”

In four games against the Steelers, he is 2-2 with 269.8 yards per game and seven touchdowns. If not for a great tackle by Ben Roethlisberger and a miss by the most accurate kicker in NFL history at the time, his record might have been 3-1.

The Steelers will have the luxury of stacking the line to stop Addai and pressure Collins. Let’s face it, there is no way Collins will be able to do too much. The man is just this side of using a walker and a colostomy bag. I know what you’re saying, “Brett Favre played well in his 40s.” Yeah, but he is Brett Favre. Kerry Collins is, umm, not.

Surprisingly, the Steelers’ pass defense is fourth in the league for yards allowed and sixth in sacks.

Look for a big day from the Steel Curtain against an anemic Colts offense.


The numbers say this should be a good and relatively easy win for the Mighty Black and Gold. The Colts are simply not the same team on offense without Peyton Manning, and their defense is being forced to, well, play defense. They lack the big, bruising run stoppers most other teams have. This means they usually have as much success stopping the run as Mike Tyson has pronouncing the word “thespians.”

I’m looking for Mendenhall to have more than 100 yards rushing and a score.

Roethlisberger will have 250+ yards and a passing touchdown, probably to Wallace. Wallace is going to get 100 yards receiving to go with that score.

The defense is going to hold Addai to fewer than 50 rushing yards and no score. Kerry Collins will be under 200 yards passing, and will be sacked at least 3 times.

I’m going to say Pittsburgh will win this one by at least three touchdowns.