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Healthy QBs growing scarce

Posted Nov 4, 2017

A look at what's ahead on the Steelers' second-half schedule.

At look at the Steelers’ remaining opponents heading into Week Nine:

Nov. 12, at INDIANAPOLIS: The Colts (2-6) visit the Texans (3-4) on Sunday with the best record in the NFL in one-score games (games decided by eight points or fewer) in head coach Chuck Pagano’s tenure (34-15-0 since 2012). Indianapolis is 2-2 in such games this season, including last Sunday’s 24-23 loss at Cincinnati. Quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) was put on the reserve/injured list on Thursday after being inactive for the Colts’ first eight games.

Nov. 16, TENNESSEE: The Titans (4-3) are No. 16 in total defense (10th rushing, 19th passing) as they prepare to host the Ravens (4-4) but they’ve been much better than that in their last three games. Tennessee allowed an average of 253.0 yards per game against Miami, Indianapolis and Cleveland. Only Carolina (246.0 yards) and Minnesota (246.3) have done better defensively over the last three weeks.

Nov. 26, GREEN BAY: The Packers (4-3) come off their bye and host the Lions (3-4) with third-year quarterback Brett Hundley continuing to replace Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone on Oct. 15 at Minnesota). Hundley is 31-for-59 passing (52.5 percent) for 244 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions and a passer rating of 40.5. He’s also rushed four times for 47 yards (11.8 per) and one TD. Rookie running back Aaron Jones had a career-high 131 yards rushing on 17 carries in Green Bay’s 26-17 loss to New Orleans on Oct. 22.

Dec. 4, at CINCINNATI: The Bengals (3-4) visit the Jaguars (4-3) having scored seven touchdowns on seven red zone possessions on the road this season. The Bengals lead the NFL in red zone defense overall, having permitted eight touchdowns on 24 opponents’ trips into the Cincinnati red zone (33.3 percent).

Dec. 10, BALTIMORE: The Ravens (4-4) visit the Titans (4-3) coming off their second shutout of the season (40-0 over Miami on Oct. 26). Baltimore allowed a season-low 196 yards, including a season-low 45 rushing yards, and the defense contributed two interception returns for touchdowns to the blowout.

Dec. 17, NEW ENGLAND: The Patriots (6-2) hit their bye leading the NFL in total offense (411.1 yards per game) and passing offense (302.1). New England has outscored opponents in each of the first three quarters this season (40-37 in the first, 103-55 in the second and 56-20 in the third) but has been outscored in fourth quarters, 67-37. The Patriots will play five of their next six games on the road coming out of their bye.

Dec. 25, at HOUSTON: The Texans (3-4) host the Colts (2-6) having scored at least 30 points in five consecutive games. Houston is the only NFL team to have hit the 30-point plateau for five consecutive weeks this season. The Texans are No. 1 in the NFL in points per game (30.7) and touchdowns (26) and are No. 1 in the AFC and No. 3 in the NFL in red zone offense, with a success rate of 65.2 percent (15 touchdowns in 23 red zone opportunities). But all of that is subject to change now that Houston has lost quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season (knee).

Dec. 31, CLEVELAND: The Browns arrived at their bye at 0-8. The defense is ranked No. 9 overall (sixth rushing, 18th passing). Four of Cleveland’s eight losses have been by three points (21-18 to the Steelers on Sept. 10, 31-28 on Sept. 24 at Indianapolis, 17-14 to the Jets on Oct. 8 and 12-9 in overtime to the Titans on Oct. 22.