Packers Fresh Out of Kryptonite for Men of SteelPosted:Nov 24th, 2017 6:26 pm
It's come to this: the Packers are two touchdown underdogs for their prime time game in Pittsburgh Sunday night. Safe to say, they haven't been 14 point dogs since the '80s...or maybe the 70s. Unfortunately, if I were in Vegas I'd probably lay the points.
After watching the offense sputter at home against the Ravens, there's very little reason to believe they will be able to muster much firepower against a superior defense, in their house. It's the second meeting between the two teams since Super Bowl 45; a series that has featured close games more often than not. This will likely not be one of those close games.
Brett Hundley's confidence was shaken to the core by two early interceptions last week. While the Steelers haven't recorded a ton of sacks this year, look for them to unleash Bud Dupree and TJ Watt against the shaky young QB. You know the Badger rookie would like nothing more than to have a monster game against the team he grew up rooting for; the one that passed on him and traded down to draft Kevin King. Those Steeler OLBs have been asked to play a lot in coverage this season, so their sack stats are down. This might be a week where they can pad their numbers.
With Jones and Montgomery still sidelined, and Devante Mays firmly entrenched in McCarthy's doghouse after fumbling the first two times he touched the ball last week, the Packers running game will be in the hands of Jamal Williams, and maybe Randall Cobb to a small degree. The Steelers are vulnerable against the run, but the Pack is too far down the depth chart to take advantage of that matchup.
Pittsburgh's offense hasn't been quite as lethal as they've been the past few years, mainly because Big Ben got off to a very slow start. Expect a heavy dose of Leveon Bell, on the ground and through the air. And of course, Ben will feed the game's best receiver, Antonio Brown, early and often. With rookie Ju Ju Smith-Schuster dealing with an injury, Martavis Bryant may have a chance to make some plays. The Pack should have Kevin King and Morgan Burnett back in the secondary which will obviously help, but the pass rush would be the biggest help and that unit is banged up, as always. Clay is iffy with a groin and Perry is nicked up (what a shocker). The Packers must get an impact out of Ahmad Brooks and Vince Biegel--that may be a lot to ask, unfortunately.
Let's face it. This one could really ugly, really quickly. This rapidly disintegrating season will be on the line the next two weeks against the Bucs and Browns. A loss to either would likely remove any reason for Aaron Rodgers to return this season. Not that there's a guarantee that he'll come back either way, but a seventh loss will likely make the decision an easy one.
The most we can hope for this Sunday is that the Pack hangs on to the football, plays solid run defense against Bell and try to tackle Brown after he makes a catch and try to limit big plays. For those of you Packer fans who are under 40, this is the kind of game us 50-70+ year olds remember all too well.
Steelers 34 Packers 10