Last week’s game against the Ravens was… well, it was a bit of a punch in the gut. It started off very promisingly but the first three drives all ended up in turnovers, two being interceptions from Brett Hundley and the third being a fumble from rookie running back Davante Mays. Unfortunately the game continued to go downhill from there and the Packers ended up taking a very humbling loss. Green Bay however cannot dwell on that, so we are on to Pittsburgh!
3 BURNING QUESTIONS
CAN THE OFFENSE BOUNCE BACK?
Last week the Packers offense did not look great. Granted this was against one of the best pass defenses in the league, but no matter who the opponent a shut out is unacceptable. Unfortunately for the Pack the defense they face this week is no slouch. The Steelers rank fourth in the NFL in overall defense and have a number of very solid players on that side of the ball.
In order for the Packers to get a win this week they will need to be able to move the ball consistently and capitalize on any scoring opportunities they are given. This all starts with the man under center, Brett Hundley. Last week he opened the game with a very good looking drive but turned the ball over in the end zone. Hundley had plenty of passes I’m sure he’d love to have back, but look for him to bounce back this week. If he can and the offense overall can improve after a poor showing last week it will go a long way towards beating a tough Pittsburgh team.
WILL THE DEFENSE BE ABLE TO SLOW DOWN BELL?
It is no secret that Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is one of the best and most complete running backs in the NFL. He currently leads the NFL in rushing with 886 rushing yards and also has over 300 yards receiving. He is one of the most difficult players in the league to defend because of his ability to get yards between the tackles, make defenders miss in space and even split out and run routes with equal skill to most receivers the NFL. The Packers are likely going to be without the services of second year defensive lineman Kenny Clark this week which will make shutting Bell down even more difficult. If the Pack can slow down Bell’s running abilities the Steelers’ offense suddenly becomse very one dimensional. Can they stop him or even slow him down? Dom Capers will definitely have his hands full this week.
CAN ANYONE STOP ANTONIO BROWN?
Bell isn’t the only dynamic superstar on Pittsurgh’s offense. The Steelers also have in their employ the league’s leading pass catchers. Antonio Brown has been on an absolute tear the past couple years, torching secondaries and making it look easy while doing so. This season has been no different. This season he already has 70 catches for over 1,000 yards and has been nearly impossible to guard. The Packers will be looking to shut down Bell but that still leaves them with a future hall of fame receiver to deal with as well. The defense is going to need to step up in a big way this week in order to walk away from this game with a W. Are they up to the challenge? We’ll see on Sunday.
2 Key Matchups
Nick Perry and Mike Daniels vs Steelers’ offensive line
These two guys could be the most important players on defense for the Green Bay Packers this week. This is because this game will be won or lost up front and these are the two guys who stand to make the biggest impact as they both have the ability to stuff the run, and rush the passer. With Kenny Clark out even more responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of Mike Daniels to plug up the middle, and generate interior pressure from the mostly immoble Ben Roethlisberger. But even most important than his job could be Nick Perry’s.
Perry will need to be on his toes all afternoon by attempting to contain Bell and not let him get the edge on outside runs. If you let Bell get to the sidelines chances are he’s going to pick up some pretty big yards. But that’s not all as he will also need to get after Big Ben consistently since that proves to be pretty much the only way to slow down Antonio Brown. If these two can consistently win their one on one matchups there is a chance that these two players could swing the entire game.
Brett Hundley vs the Steelers’ secondary
Brett Hundley, as I said earlier, had a game that he and everyone else will want to forget next week. He had too many turnovers and too many missed opportunities. If the Packers are going to have a chance to walk away with a win this Sunday, Hundley will need to play better. Hundley will need to take better care of the ball, and get it into the hands of Davante Adams and his other playmakers. Its normally very important for the success of a young quarterback to be able to lean upon the run game but that doesn’t look like it will be a possibility this week. Aaron Jones is still out with his knee injury, Ty Montgomery still hasn’t practiced with his rib injury, and Davante Mays, who got his first action last week has also been limited this week. So, with most of the running options banged up this week it’ll all fall onto the shoulder of Brett Hundley to move the ball. Le’ts see if he’s up to the challenge.
ONE BOLD PREDICTION
I think that this week, the Packers defense steps up a little bit against one of the more dynamic offensive threats in the NFL. Dom Capers is likely going to devote much of the defensive gameplan to slowing down Le’Veon Bell and I think that maybe it works this week it sort of works. Le’Veon bell is impossible to shut down completely but I think that the Packers defense holds him under 65 total yards for the day. Mike Daniels and Nick Perry are really going to show out and between the two of them there will be three sacks and three tackles for losses. They’ll slow down Bell and put the entire game on the shoulders of Big Ben making this a much more manageable game.