The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their fourth regular season game of 2021 on the road on Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers and they’ll enter that contest marked as a sizable underdog, just like they were back in Week 1. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do in the game on Sunday to come away with their second win of 2021 season.
Oh My God, Stop Kenny – The Packers have one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL right now in Kenny Clark, a UCLA product. So far through three games this season, Clark has been a beast He has 13 total tackles and two quarterback hits to go along with a sack. His tape his much better than his snaps and last week against the San Francisco 49ers he made veteran center Alex Mack look silly several times. Steelers rookie center Kendrick Green has had a rough start to his NFL career and on Sunday he’ll facing his toughest competition to date in Clark. The Steelers ought not play many big personnel groupings that invite Clark to play nose tackle. That would be foolish. Keeping Clark out of the backfield and away from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should be the top priority of the Steelers offense on Sunday. If Clark has his way most of the afternoon, it won’t be pretty for the visiting team, and he might just go home wearing Green as a hat with Roethlisberger as a decoration on it.
No Easy Apples For Adams – It’s no secret that Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is the favorite target of veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers offense runs through two players, Adams and running ack Aaron Jones and the Steelers coaching staff is well aware of that. The Steelers won’t let veteran cornerback Joe Haden travel with Adams on Sunday so much like the plan was against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 with wide receiver Stefon Diggs and the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2 with tight end Darren Waller, Adams needs extra attention all throughout Sunday with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick providing a lot of help over the top via some sort of bracketing. Adams is going to get his catches on Sunday for sure. What can’t happen is for him to have explosive play receptions and touchdown catches. Holding Adams to a stat line of 7receptions for 79 yards and no touchdowns would be a huge win on Sunday for the Steelers defense.
No Discount For Rodgers Off The Edge – The Steelers defense can’t let Rodgers have the time in the pocket on Sunday that they let Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow have last Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers will have their top two edge rushers back on Sunday in outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith and their returns from groin injuries should instantly make the Steelers defense a lot better. Watt, Highsmith, and fellow outside linebacker Melvin Ingram all need huge games on Sunday as Rodgers must be forced to get rid of the football quickly or risk getting hit multiple times. The Packers offensive line isn’t great overall so it will be up to the Steelers edge rushers and defensive tackle Cameron Heyward to make themselves huge factors in the game. If the Steelers pass rush defense can’t sack Rodgers on Sunday and can’t force the veteran quarterback to turn the football over a few times, it’s hard to imagine the team flying back to Pittsburgh with a win.
First And 10s Must Be Wins – The Steelers offense has been beyond miserable to start the season. The failures on first and 10 have snowballed into failures on second downs when behind the chains. 4 yards or more is considered a successful play on first and 10 and we better see that kind of yardage quite often on Sunday against the Packers. The Steelers running game needs to find a way to get on track and maybe having rookie running back Najee Harris run more to the outside might just do the trick. We’re likely to see a lot more short throws on Sunday as Roethlisberger will likely need to get rid of the football quickly once again. Mesh rubs, screens, slants, and dump-offs are likely to be plentiful and the need to work and not be dropped. We need to be able to look back at the Steelers Sunday first and 10 play success as being quite an improvement later in the evening.
Need Short Lambeau Fields – The tundra shouldn’t be frozen on Sunday at Lambeau Field. The Steelers offense, however, might consistently freeze up in Green Bay if the unit continually needs to work on long fields. In short, the Steelers defense and special teams units will need to greatly impact Sunday’s game to help the team leave Green Bay with yet another improbable road victory. The Steelers beat the Bills in Week 1 and a blocked punt for a touchdown in the fourth quarter played a big part in that win. The Steelers offense will likely need at least two very short fields to work on Sunday afternoon and that unit has provided them, touchdowns must be achieved. It’s not rocket science, if the Steelers can win the turnover battle by two or more on Sunday, they should be able to beat Green Bay.