As we will do every Saturday to get you ready for the week’s game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. What will make or break the Pittsburgh Steelers as they square off against the Green Bay Packers.
X Factor: Safety Play
Went a little broad here for a couple reasons. One, because there isn’t a compelling reason to choose the strong or free safety. Both will be important. Two, we’re still not entirely sure who is the starting free safety is going to be Sunday. My guess is that it will be Mike Mitchell but if he can’t go, Robert Golden will get the nod once again.
The safeties have struggled over the last few weeks. Too many communication breakdowns, too many missed tackles, too many big plays. You know what’s happened but three touchdowns of 60+ yards over two weeks is a tough pill to swallow. And frankly, unacceptable against any offense, much less giving up a pair to the Indianapolis Colts.
So they have to keep a lid on things. And they have to tackle. The Packers’ offense has fallen off like Lindsay Lohan’s career but still, they have some weapons. Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb with a mobile quarterback? They can do some damage.
And even though their run game without Aaron Jones and probably without Ty Montgomery, it’s a physical bunch. Especially at wide receiver. As I noted in my scouting report, Nelson gets involved on crack blocks and looks to dig safeties out. Can’t allow themselves to get blocked and removed from their alley fill. Here’s one example and definitely not even the best one.
Even Mitchell, in an Instagram story post he put up yesterday, had that as part of his game notes, mentioning their “toss crack” game.
Elsewhere on offense, the Packers like to take vertical shots and use a lot of playaction to influence the linebackers/safeties to come up. Quarterback Brett Hundley has a good enough arm to make defenses pay.
The Steelers should win this one. But they should’ve beaten the Chicago Bears. And it took a furious comeback to beat the Indianapolis Colts. A blowout win isn’t guaranteed. But if the safeties tackle well and keep everything in front, they’ll get another easy win.