Ever since the great defense of the late-2000’s, Steelers faithful have been waiting for a defense to get excited about. Rebuilding the defense was never going to be easy. But the Steelers may finally have the defense we’ve all been waiting for.

It’s still not a great defense yet, but has all the makings of becoming one sooner rather than later. With budding young stars like T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Devin Bush, this defense could be dangerous for many years to come. 

Their next opponent brings an offense that can hurt you in multiple ways. Jacoby Brissett has done a spectacular job since taking over at quarterback when Andrew Luck surprised us all with his retirement. Marlon Mack is a very capable back and Brissett has quality targets in the passing game mike T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. 

Here’s how the two units compare on paper.

Steelers DefenseColts Offense

20.7 Points-per-game against (13th)

22.6 Points-per-game (16th)

336.6 Total yards-per-game against (10th)

345.9 Total yards-per-game (18th)

103.0 Rushing yards-per-game against (15th)

128.4 Rushing yards-per-game (11th)

233.6 Passing yards-per-game against

217.4 Passing yards-per-game (22nd)

19 Takeaways (10 INT/9 fumbles) (2nd)

7 Turnovers (3 INT/4 fumbles) (T-4th)

24 Sacks (T-6th)

11 Sacks allowed (T-4th)

44% 3rd down conversion against (24th)

45% 3rd down conversion (10th)

Advantage: Steelers

Like their defense, this Colts offense doesn’t make mistakes. They rarely turn the ball over, they protect the quarterback, and they convert a good percentage on 3rd down.

T.Y. Hilton can stretch the field and Marlon Mack has become one if the better runners in the NFL. Brissett’s ability to evade pressure and make plays outside the pocket has helped extend drives and win football games. 

Pittsburgh struggles at times with the mobile quarterbacks this season. They couldn’t contain Lamar Jackson early against Baltimore and allowed Russell Wilson to gain big chunks of yards late in the Seattle game. They will have to find a way to contain Brissett and not allow him to make plays outside the pocket.

One big area to watch is how these two matchup on 3rd down. Indianapolis is one of the better teams in the league at converting them and Pittsburgh has struggled at getting off the field in those situations. They’ve struggled especially on 3rd-and-long. 

The Steelers’ ability to get to the quarterback and take the ball away is huge. They could rattle Brissett if they can contain him. Their new-found ability to force turnovers is a game-changer and can flip the field in an instant. 

If the Steelers have a chance in this game, it will have to come from their defense. They have the ability to impose their will on them, but can they get off the field on 3rd down? That will be what decides the Steelers fate on Sunday.

The more opportunities the defense gives the ball back to their offense and get points, the better their chances are at winning. If they allow Indianapolis to walk the down the field, it will be a long day and Pittsburgh will be 3-5.