Gary Brackett versus Dan Kreider

Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett will take on the Steelers' punishing fullback Dan Kreider in a matchup that will have a big impact on whether the Colts can stop the Steeler's running attack up the middle.

Dan Kreider is a hammer of a blocker. He is the very definition of an old school fullback and one of the best lead blockers in the NFL. It's his job both expand the initial hole created by the offensive line and to hit the linebacker waiting at the second level. 

Considering the fact that Pittsburgh loves to run the ball right up the gut, and that Kreider is a better blocker between the tackles, on Monday night the Colt who will be in Kreider's scope is middle linebacker Gary Brackett.

Brackett has been a welcome change to the Colts linebacker corps. He brings sideline to sideline speed and athleticism that was missing from the middle linebacker position in recent years. Brackett might be small height-wise, however, he shows good initial pop when taking on blockers and is a solid leverage player when met in the hole.

So this will be another classic speed versus power match-up. Kreider can't block what he can't touch. And Brackett's elusive quickness can make him difficult to block. But Pittsburgh's goal is to draw a linebacker toward the hole and then have Kreider there leading the way. As a result, the Colts must have someone there to tackle the ball-carrier. When Brackett does consume the fullback's block, a safety must be counted on to be there to make the tackle on the runner. Don't be surprised to see the Colts position eight, possibly nine players in the box when Pittsburgh features their two-back formations. 

Pittsburgh has been running more two tight end sets this year, but Kreider still sees plenty of field time. The Steelers love to his physical, smash-mouth skills to wear down opposing teams. 

Don't expect things to change this week. Pittsburgh likes the idea of having Kreider pounding the Colts' smallish defenders.

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