Back at it on gameday, breaking down what the Pittsburgh Steelers have to do to win (or lose) in today’s game against the Green Bay Packers. My always unreliable prediction at the bottom.
The Steelers Will Win If…
– Eli Rogers works the middle of the field. Almost my X Factor for yesterday, Rogers will have maybe one last chance to step up this year. Because when JuJu Smith-Schuster is healthy, and let’s presume he will be for next week, Rogers’ snap count is minimal and offensive involvement even lower. The Packers will play a lot of two high looks and sometimes get their linebacker on the seam route, meaning Rogers can do some damage. He’s got to step up. As David Todd has correctly pointed out during the season, the Steelers don’t work the field like they should. Mostly because they lack the slot/TE threat.
– The Packers’ run game stays contained. I’m honestly not that worried about Green Bay’s running attack. Without Aaron Jones or Ty Montgomery, it’s been sluggish (and I’m being nice). Still, Jamaal Williams is a big back and the Steelers have had trouble with getting those guys on the ground. Make them one-dimensional, put it all on Brett Hundley, because I don’t think he can handle it. At least, he hasn’t shown the ability to do it so far.
– Green Bay’s secondary doesn’t make any big plays. Forget about the numbers. It’s a unit that’s getting healthy. Morgan Burnett and Kevin King are back in the lineup and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a really good safety. There’s a lot of talent there. Can’t assume it’ll be a cakewalk for Ben Roethlisberger and company.
The Packers Will Win If…
– They force the Steelers to bounce their runs. Green Bay does a really good job of building their fence and stringing runs out wide. If I’m Pittsburgh, I’m keeping everything between the tackles. Less power, more inside zone and Lead Iso plays with Rosie Nix.
– Playaction fools the Steelers. That’s the Packers’ best chance of creating big plays. Work out of pistol and 21 personnel, give the illusion of run, and then play-pass with max protection to take a shot to Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams. As we wrote in our X Factor post, the safeties have to do a better job of keeping a lid on things. They haven’t the last two weeks.
– Their red zone defense has a Steelers’ esque turn around. Their red zone defense on the road has been the worst in the league, though to be fair, some of that is from early in the season. It’s been a sore spot for the Steelers’ offense; overall, they’re 31st in the NFL. Movable force vs a stoppable object. Something’s gotta give.