Game: Green Bay Packers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Time & Location: Sunday 8:30 PM EST; Heinz Field; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Previous Meeting: 2013 Week 16, Steelers Won 38-31
The Green Bay Packers come into this game with a laundry list of injuries, with six players listed as questionable for Sunday. Ty Montgomery (Ribs) and Kenny Clark (Ankle) are both doubtful, and will need at least another week before they are back on the field. With Aaron Jones already ruled out, the onus will again fall on Jamaal Williams and Devante Mays to pick up the slack for a struggling Packers offense. Starting center Corey Linsley is questionable, but should play after limited practice Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers injury report is much shorter. Rookie breakout receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster along with Vance McDonald and Joe Haden have already been ruled out. The only question mark is hard-hitting safety Mike Mitchell, who should be active after practicing in some fashion every day.
The Steelers at home and the Steelers on the road are two completely different animals. Over their last 17 home games, they have averaged 29.8 points and 410 yards. The Packers defense has been miserable this season, and this week won’t be much easier. They’re allowing 26.0 points on the road, while also allowing 340.1 yards per game. After a rocky start to the season, the Steelers are humming on their five-game winning streak. They’re averaging 25 points per game and should make that number higher against a banged-up Packers defense.
Brett Hundley and the Packers offense looked to be on the upswing before their extremely poor showing against the Baltimore Ravens. He had three picks along with a fumble, as the offense looked completely disjointed en route to their first home shutout, since 2006. The road doesn’t get any easier this week against a Steelers defense that is allowing the fourth fewest yards and second fewest points in the NFL. If the Packers are going to have a chance in this game, they need to adopt the strategy used by the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago. They stifled Le’Veon Bell and denied Antonio Brown the ball, forcing their other playmakers to beat them. Their defense will need to force Ben Roethlisberger to make mistakes, which will be difficult as they have only created only six turnovers on the road this season.
The Packers are not the same team without Aaron Rodgers and they don’t have a consistent running game to keep them close. Brett Hundley will be forced to try and win this game against a Steelers passing defense that ranks third in yards per game. Hundley has also struggled against pressure, and the Steelers rank third in sacks. The deck is stacked against the Packers being successful in this game, and they’re just biding their time until Aaron Rodgers returns from his collarbone injury. The Steelers offense should have no trouble moving the ball against the Packers, which would result in an increased workload for Bell who should get 25-30+ carries by the time the game is over.
Final Score Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Green Bay Packers 13
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