This will be the first time since 2010 that the Packers have been a double-digit underdog. The Steelers rank second in the league with 34 sacks. Not having him Sunday night against the Steelers would be a huge loss for the Packers. Will he be allowed to return some punts at some point?
The Green Bay Packers are in a bad way.
This past summer, though, Callahan went head-to-head with rookie Taysom Hill for the No. 3 quarterback job, and at the final cutdown, the Packers chose to cut them both and see who made it through waivers. The Packers are 18th in the National Football League against the pass and could be without versatile linebacker Clay Matthews, who is effective as a rusher and in coverage. Then came a run of four 25-plus-carry games, until the Steelers’ victory over Tennessee on a short week, when Bell toted the rock just 12 times.
Fortunately the defence has exceeded expectations, and makes them look like the only real challenger in the AFC to the Patriots. He threw three interceptions and lost a fumble last week in a 23-0 loss to Baltimore.
There’s not a whole lot to break down in terms of the matchup here – Pittsburgh can either do whatever it wants, or it can play down to the competition and let the Packers hang around. His 120-yard game on Thanksgiving was his second 100-yard game in a row and started a stretch where he averaged 146.5 yards over an eight game stretch before getting hurt in the AFC title game.
As impressive as the Pittsburgh offence was in last week’s win over the Titans, it’s the defence that hasn’t received the credit it deserves. Bell has to get back on track against a Packers defense that has been stingy against the run this season. If he doesn’t, he was either dropping into coverage all game, or we need to have a long conversation about whether Dupree will ever be the type of edge rusher to pile up production against fringe-roster-spot offensive linemen. Green Bay are likely to focus on Brown and Bell, leaving James relatively free. Instead, Packers general manager Ted Thompson passed on Watt in April, and now the outside linebacker would like a measure of revenge. He’s really struggled this season, especially throwing deep, but Ben has always been a better player at Heinz Field than he was on the road, so being at home on Sunday should get him going and allow him to build on the momentum of last week. He has 38 carries for 124 yards in the last two games.
Adams is Hundley’s favorite target with 20 receptions over the past three games, but the running game has been weakened by injuries to Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones, who both did not practice Wednesday. Brett Hundley has been less than good for the Packers, as they are averaging just over 13 points per game since losing Rodgers. He’ll be sidelined for at least the next three games. To add insult to injury, Gilbert, who will lose almost $1 million of his 2017 base salary and possibly roughly three-quarters of a million of past bonuses paid to him because of his suspension, was also fined just over $9,000 this past week for his facemask penalty in the team’s win over the Tennessee Titans. LB Nick Perry has 4.5 sacks in his past four games. It is also 35-15-1 in their last 51 games overall, is 37-17-1 in their last 55 games coming off a win, and is 22-8-1 in their last 31 games when they covered the point spread in their previous game. In his last four games, he has thrown for nine touchdowns and only two interceptions.