The Indianapolis Colts are a rudderless team that is headed for the rocky shoals of insignificance. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a shoo-in playoff team angered at getting pummeled in their season opener and ready to throw down against weaker opponents like the Seattle Seahawks and the Colts.
It could be ugly.
When NFL schedule-makers slotted this one in as a prime time game for NBC, they must have thought that they had a surefire winner on their hands. Peyton Manning against the blitz-happy Steelers defense? Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace against a suspect Colts secondary? They were no doubt expecting a close game with offensive fireworks throughout.
Now (as Paul Kuharsky pointed out earlier this week) there is a strong chance that this will be a blowout as the Colts wallow in the dregs of the NFL, looking like a shell of the team that they are when Manning is under center. Meanwhile, the Steelers look as strong as ever.
After a Week 1 hiccup against the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers bounced back with a dominating 24-0 manhandling of the inept Seahawks last week.
The Colts began their Manning-less nightmare getting embarrassed by the Houston Texans in their opener. Then last week they made the perennially-mediocre Cleveland Browns of today look like the perennially-tough Browns of the mid-1980s.
Of course, the old trope "any given Sunday" still applies to this game.
The Colts could pull it together enough along their shaky offensive line to give Kerry Collins enough time in the pocket to sling it to Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark (if he plays) and Pierre Garcon.
They may be able to stiffen up along an undersized defensive line to keep Rashard Mendenhall from gashing them running the football.
They might be halfway decent in kick return coverage to prevent Antonio Brown from getting good yardage or breaking one for a TD.
It just seems like too many "what-ifs" for the Colts to overcome tonight. I anticipate a handy Steelers victory.
Keep following along no matter how the game progresses, though. I'll add updates about the key stories and projections for both teams throughout the evening.