The Pittsburgh Steelers may be 1-2 on the season, but they are undefeated on the road against good teams so far, and that’s exactly what’s on the menu. They defeated the Buffalo Bills on the road in Week 1 before dropping two winnable games at Heinz Field the past two weeks against the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals—even if both teams have better records than either the Bills or their upcoming opponent, the Green Bay Packers.
Can they actually win this one, though? Well, a lot of things would have to go right, and that starts, at a bare minimum, with the offense protecting the football, and the defense turning the ball over. That’s not easy against Aaron Rodgers and his NFL-best career interception rate of just 1.4 percent, but fumbles have been a more reliable avenue so far, if they start recovering more.
It’s hard to imagine the Steelers winning this one without getting a free possession or two, but minimizing possessions may also be key, as you don’t want to give Rodgers too many chances to score. That means sustained drives, something that they actually were able to do in spurts last week, but they’re equally liable to go three and out.
Defensively, they absolutely have to get home in pressuring Rodgers. The return of T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith has to be as impactful as is hoped. At the very least, they have to consistently get him off his mark, off of his first read. Even that won’t be enough, but it will be a start.
Next up; how do you contain Davante Adams? My guess is that they throw as much as they can at him. They’re certainly not going to shadow him. He’ll probably see a lot of bracket coverages and disguises as they try to dissuade the Packers from looking in his direction.
This is the kind of game that you have a free safety like Minkah Fitzpatrick for. Rodgers is going to be playing chess out there. You need your quarterback of the secondary to be able to match him move for move. Get him to misplace one piece and you can capture a queen or a bishop out there.
You may have heard that the Steelers’ offensive line has underwhelmed this season. Well, it has. Can they at least put together a competent showing? They have to have a plan for dealing with defensive tackle Kenny Clark with multiple bodies, because rookie center Kendrick Green will not be able to handle it without wrecking the offense for the day.
Getting Diontae Johnson back at wide receiver is big. You saw how much difficulty Ben Roethlisberger had last week facing pressure when he was without his favorite target, the one player on offense who has the ability to get open consistently. With a leaky offensive line, he is essential.