The Steelers welcome Peyton Manning to Heinz Field for his second ever visit, and while what's being thrown at him isn't much in doubt, how the Steelers will line up against Indy's defense is looking more mystifying by the day. Willie Parker: out. Heath Miller: out. Ben Roethlisberger: Should be out, but will probably make an ill-advised start.
While an MRI may not reveal a injury to Ben Roethlisberger that would make him physically unable to perform Sunday, it would still be best to gve Byron Leftwich a crack against a familiar foe. Ben's assurances that he will suddenly step up his play sounds like characteristic stubbornness that defines his tendency to try to shake off his oncoming defensive lineman. Maybe he's become more conscious of his habit to hold the ball and, seeing how effective Leftwich was with three- and five-step drops against Washington, will try to modify his appraoch. But I'm skeptical and even moreso that his shoulder wouldn't benefit from a week off.
For the fifth time this year, it's Mewelde Moore lining up at halfback, which obviously isn't a huge concern, though the parade of Willie Parker injuries - now his shoulder - isn't something Steelers fans can safely assume will curtail in time for the playoffs. Considering how much success the Steelers had using Heath Miller in the playoff victory in Indy in '05, his being out has me more uneasy than it normally would.
As has been noted, Mike Tomlin, who noted Steelers hater Bill Simmons calls the best young coach in the NFL in this week's picks column, will get a chance at his coaching mentor Tony Dungy, who got his first NFL coaching job under Chuck Noll. So, indirectly this is Tomlin vs. Noll, right? Finally it gets settled. Okay, maybe not.
With Ryan Clark returning, Bryant McFadden remains the last vital cog of the league's top defense not suiting up against a Colts' offensive attack that was still plodding even in a supposed season-saving victory at home against the Patriots last week. Joseph Addai is still questionable with a lingering hamstring injury. No doubt the NFL will find new, innovative ways to fine the Steelers for so much as batting down on Peyton's passes in aggression. Apparently Pittsburgh is expected to serve drinks to opponents as they usher them into the endzone.