Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts NFL First Touchdown: Expert Picks & Predictions (12/16/23)
Get Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts First Touchdown picks & odds for the (12/16/23).
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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts First Touchdown Picks
The goal of the First Touchdown prop is to identify which player will score the first touchdown of the game. Who will score the first touchdown in the Steelers vs. Colts matchup?
Najee Harris First Touchdown (+700 FD)
Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong in Mitch Trubisky’s starting debut as they lost to the lowly New England Patriots 21-18. The Patriots got out to a shockingly dominant lead, drastically altering the expected Steelers game script as they had to get more aggressive in their efforts to get back into the contest.
Even with less carries, it is still apparent that Najee Harris leads this backfield. While most people disagree with who should get the lion’s share of carries, it’s still Najee’s until further notice. That bodes well for him in this contest as the Colts defensive weakness has been from their front seven’s inability to stop the run.
The Colts struggles with stopping the run can not be overstated as they rank 26th in Def Rush DVOA, 29th in Def Rush Success Rate, and 27th in Def Rush EPA. A big reason for their struggles comes from their front four, a defensive line that clocks in at 22nd in Adjusted Line Yards.
That plays right into Najee’s hands as he is the Steelers bull back and should face minimal pressure when hitting the gaps in the trenches. The Steelers have an advantage in every conflicting metric as they rank 11th in Rush DVOA, 13th in Rush Success Rate, 18th in Rush EPA, and 13th in Adjusted Line Yards.
There is some slight worry that the Colts will be able to negate their struggles by being able to stack the box against Trubisky, yet there is an argument that he is one of the better passers in a backup role. Tomlin gives him full reign to air it out, being more than capable of punishing a stacked box and forcing the Colts defense to stretch back out to the benefit of their ground game.
Jaylen Warren First Touchdown (+750 DK)
The bigger issue with backing Najee Harris is that his backup running back Jaylen Warren still plays a massive role in this offense as their dual threat option. Warren was making a case for the starting role earlier this year until Najee started to round back into form as of late, now receiving just slightly less carries these past few games.
— Cameron Blackburn (@CamBlurn) December 9, 2023
Not all hope is lost for Warren as his receiving abilities puts him in firm contention to be the first touchdown scorer. He puts added stress on opposing linebacking units as Warren can just as equally punish them in the ground game as he can as a pass catcher in screens and dump offs.
Should the Colts find success in a stacked box and limit Najee early on, Warren may be called upon and receive an uptick in his snap count which gives a higher chance of potentially cashing this prop. In what is expected to be a low scoring affair, the goal is to maximize the chances of who will punch one in and Warren serves as the Steelers best option when in scoring position.
Michael Pittman First Touchdown (+1000 FD)
While the Steelers still boast elite metrics on the defensive end, they have been showing signs of regression as of late as opposing offenses are finding more consistent downfield success. Tired legs can only take you so far and the Steelers defense has not had any help from their offense in terms of giving them a break to catch their breath.
The Colts main strength on offense has been from their ground game, ranking eighth in Rush DVOA. Even as their strength, the run game should still find minimal success early on against a Steelers front seven who ranks third in Def Rush Success Rate and 11th in Def Rush EPA and DVOA.
That may revert the Colts offense to opt into a heavier pass attack in order to combat against this, giving their group of pass catchers a higher chance of cashing this as they move the ball down the field. Michael Pittman has been Minshew’s go-to target, leading the team in receptions by a wide margin.
Pittman is also a big bodied receiver that can bust elite coverage, serving as a go up and get it type of pass catcher when near the red zone. Factor in the Colts offensive line ranking 12th in Adjusted Sack Rate, and Pittman should have ample time to create separation and give Minshew a target to throw to in the red zone.