This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will travel to Heinz Field and take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers are currently 5-5 and are 3.5 games back of the Vikings in the NFC North. The Steelers are currently 8-2 and are running away with the AFC North division. This matchup, at first look, appears to be extremely one-sided. Hopefully, the Packers will be able to put up a good fight.
There are three specific matchups that can decide this game:
1. Brett Hundley vs. Pittsburgh’s Secondary
After losing Aaron Rodgers for the season about a month ago, Brett Hundley was thrown into the fire and struggled mightily in his four NFL starts. In order to improve, Hundley has to make better decisions in the pocket. So far this season, Hundley has thrown only two touchdowns to go along with his seven interceptions. Last week, Hundley threw three interceptions as the Packers got shutout by Baltimore. If the Packers hope to pull off the upset on Sunday night, Hundley will need to take better care of the ball.
One major concern for Hundley has been Mike McCarthy’s conservative play calling. Although Hundley completed over 65% of his passes in his last three games combined, Green Bay’s passing attack mostly consisted of dump-off passes. Throughout the last three games, the Packers rarely took shots downfield. One can infer that the conservative game plan was due to McCarthy’s lack of trust with Hundley. Moving forward, expect Hundley to take more shots downfield especially since running backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery are banged up. With a lack of running back depth, expect Coach McCarthy to give Hundley more opportunities to throw the ball.
2. The Packers’ Defense vs. Ben Roethlisberger
Last week, the Packers got torched by Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco completed 22 of 28 passes and threw for one touchdowns and one interceptions. However, the Packers did manage to sack Flacco three times last week and will need to generate that same type of pressure on Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday.
So far this season, Big Ben has been extremely inconsistent. In nine games this season, Roethlisberger has thrown for 16 touchdowns and ten interceptions. However, he has completed about 61.8% of his passes this season and could carve up this Green Bay defense if the opportunity presents itself. In his last four games, he has thrown for nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. If Green Bay’s defense does not improve quickly, then expect Roethlisberger and star receiver Antonio Brown to generate several huge plays in the passing game.
3. Green Bay’s Offensive Line vs. Pittsburgh’s Defensive Line
Another week, another concern about the offensive line for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers offensive line has been atrocious this season and Bryan Bulaga’s torn ACL will not help improve this glaring concern. However, starting tackle David Bakhtiari did return and has definitely improved the offensive line in recent weeks.
The Steelers are currently have the second-most sacks in the league with 34. Led by pass-rusher Cameron Heyward, this Steelers defense is nasty and is looking for blood against the Packers. With Green Bay’s inconsistent offensive line, I expect the Steelers to pressure Hundley for the entire game and to generate a couple of sacks as a result.
As for my prediction, I expect the Steelers to win handily in front of their home crowd. I personally do not believe that Hundley is good enough to be an NFL quarterback and I expect him to struggle once more. The Steelers have been firing on all cylinders as of late and I expect them to continue to roll over this inferior Packers team
Prediction: Steelers 30, Packers 14