NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Green Bay Packers Preview
Welcome to the NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Green Bay Packers Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Preview, the Steeler’s Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Fantasy Football Impact, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, the latest Injury Report, down to the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
If it isn’t one thing, it’s another for the Pittsburgh Steelers when it comes to off-field drama this season.
This week, the league blessed the team with the news that starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert would be suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Chris Hubbard will step in for Gilbert while he serves his suspension.
For the team, it’s simply “next man up”, as Tomlin has said so many times.
“He’s amazing,” guard David DeCastro said of Hubbard. “He’s like a Swiss army knife. He’s settled in really nicely at right tackle. He’s had a lot of good reps. He’s become quite a player. He’s been in the league five years. He’s not a young guy. He’s got a lot of experience.”
The talented offensive line, no matter who is in for the Steelers, would like nothing more than to lead the way for Le’Veon Bell to be the first Steeler to lead the league in rushing in 71 years, the last of which happened to be Bullet Bill Dudley who led the league with 604 yards back then.
Bell leads the NFL in rushing after 10 games with 886 yards.
Still, records aside, there are only a few things Bell is focused on.
“We’ve been just kind of looking at the bigger picture, that’s trying to get to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl,’’ Bell said Wednesday. “That’s the only thing we’re worried about.”
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy knows Bell is a special player his defense will have their hands full in trying to contain Sunday night at Heinz Field.
“He can do it all,’’ McCarthy said Wednesday. He’s a complete back. The first thing I always look for in running backs is can they play all three downs and he’s definitely that. One of the best in the business, he’s playing the best right now clearly. His run style’s different. He’s so patient, you have to stay disciplined in your gaps. He begs you to peak on your leverage, and he has that second gear where he can take advantage of it and get to the second level immediately. He’s a unique, dynamic player.”
Defensively, the Steelers have been one of the top units all season long in the NFL, but there is plenty of room for improvement in several areas, especially tackling, which hasn’t bitten the team in the derriere yet… oh, wait, let’s not forget the losses to Jacksonville and Chicago earlier this year.
Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the issue at his press conference.
“We’re not going to be a dominant group until we minimize big plays and we tackle better,” Tomlin said. “We gave up a big play the first play of the second half. We gave up a couple big plays in Indy.
“We’re missing tackles on big plays and allowing people to score. We have to give our red zone defense a chance to operate by making some of those tackles.”
Unfortunately for the defense, NFL teams do not tackle in practice after training camp. It all comes down to mental preparation and being in the right position.
“I think there are certain skills that you have to continuously hone and tackling is one of them,” Tomlin said. “It’s not necessarily the tackling itself. Obviously, at this point in the journey there’s not a lot of tackling, if any tackling going on in the practice setting, but the approach, the angles at which you approach the ball carrier, the speed in which you approach the ball carrier, the way that you come to balance and gather yourself, are all things that you can work on and things that we’re focused on with our guys. Their positioning relative to the position of others in pursuit and the knowledge of that is an element of tackling as well.”
Steelers Keys To Victory
- Attack Deep! Green Bay is vulnerable in the secondary.
- Release the Hounds! Just like the 2nd half of the Titans game, let Ben Roethlisberger and the offense attack relentlessly, especially with the no-huddle.
- More James Conner! The Steelers are running Le’Veon Bell into the ground. It’s time to lighten the load. Conner can handle it. Save him for January!
- Eliminate the Mental Mistakes! The Steeler secondary has been torched too many times the past two weeks with miscommunication. That HAS to end now.
- Stack the front line! It’s Brett freaking Hundley. Dare him to throw the ball.
It’s yet another Prime Time game for the Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, an environment they always seem to thrive in, especially at Heinz Field. The Packers are a shell of themselves without Aaron Rodgers leading them at quarterback. The offense exploded for 40 points last week against the Titans after Big Ben ripped into the offense at halftime. Now it’s time to continue where they left off last week as the team heads down the stretch drive.
JuJu Schuster-Smith will be out, but that gives Martavis Bryant a chance to shine again in the Steelers offense. There isn’t any room for “Trap Games” for the Steelers from here on out. It’s go time for this team. If they want to lock down a first-round bye in the playoffs, then the wounded Packers are a team they should bury.
Steelers 37 Packers 10
NFL Week 12
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) vs Green Bay Packers (5-5)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Sunday, November 26th, 8:25 pm
TV: NBC (Local WPXI) | Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play) Cris Collinsworth (analyst) | Michele Tafoya (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: Westwood One | Announcers: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) Jason Taylor (analyst) |
Weather at Kickoff: 40 and cloudy.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -15.5
- Series History: Series began in 1933.
- The Steelers are 15-18 in the overall Regular Season series against the Packers.
- Steelers are 7-7 playing at home vs the Packers
- Streak: Steelers won previous four meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Dec. 22, 2013, at Green Bay – Pittsburgh 38 Green Bay 31
- Steelers are 0-1 in the Post-Season vs the Packers.
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Feb. 6, 2011 – Dallas, Texas – Green Bay 31 Pittsburgh 25 – Super Bowl XLV
- Green Bay HC Mike McCarthy was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is a graduate of Bishop Boyle High School in Homestead, Pa. He also coached at the University of Pittsburgh from 1989-92.
- The Steelers aim to improve to 26-20 on Sunday Night Football (12-7 at home).
- Pittsburgh looks to improve to 24-7 in primetime games at Heinz Field since the stadium opened in 2001.
- Ben Roethlisberger is 589 passing yards from reaching 50,000 in his NFL career and becoming the eighth quarterback in NFL history to reach the milestone.
- Antonio Brown will surpass Marvin Harrison (563) for the most receptions in any five-year span in NFL history with 83 in 2017.
- Brown, with 100 catches in 2017, will become the first player in NFL history to record 100 or more receptions in five consecutive years.
- Le’Veon Bell is 69 rushing yards from reaching 5,000 in his NFL career.
- James Harrison is 2.5 sacks from 85 in his career with the Steelers.
- William Gay will break a tie with Rod Woodson to set the record for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns in team history with his next pick six.
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Overall Record: 8-2
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (11th Season with Steelers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 111-59 (.653)
Playoff Record: 8-6 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
Last Game: Steelers 40 Titans 17
Scouting the Steelers
Quarterback- Ben Roethlisberger leads a vastly underperforming offense that has the ability to beat you via the ground or the air. Big Ben has normally been outstanding at home but has struggled to put up the same numbers on the road the past few seasons.
Running Backs – Le’Veon Bell is considered to be one of the best all-around backs in the NFL, if not thee best. Bell can kill you on the ground with his speed and elusiveness. He is patient, often delaying a second to find the hole to burst through. Bell is also dangerous out of the backfield as a pass catcher. James Conner will spell Bell from time to time.
Wide Receivers – Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the game. You can count on five catches for at least 50 yards every week at a minimum. This wideout group is extremely deep and talented. Martavis Bryant is a deep threat on every play with his size and speed. Eli Rogers is excellent from the slot. Justin Hunter has superior speed and is also a deep threat. Rookie Juju Smith-Schuster is looking to make his mark in the NFL in his first season and is already becoming a reliable Roethlisberger target. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams, but is a dependable player when called upon in the passing game.
Tight Ends – Jesse James is the starter and becoming one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets around the end zone. Vance McDonald is a big target that can make splash plays for Roethlisberger across the middle and inside the red zone. Xavier Grimble is also a nice option for Ben inside the 10-yard line.
Defense – The Steeler defense is primed for an awakening in 2017. On the 3-4 defensive line, it’s Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Stephon Tuitt. Daniel McCullers will rotate with Hargrave. Should Tuitt or Heyward go down, Tyson Alualu or L.T. Walton would step in.
At linebacker, rookie TJ Watt starts at OLB, with Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams in the middle. Bud Dupree stands opposite of Watt. Both can get at the quarterback and disrupt the opposing team’s passing game. Shazier is a stud in the middle and his speed makes him a nightmare for any QB who makes a mistake across the middle. Don’t count out James Harrison, who will rotate in to spell Watt or Dupree. Anthony Chickillo will also step in for injuries to Watt or Dupree on the outside and is making a name for himself every time he steps on the field.
The secondary has been revamped with the addition of Joe Haden at corner. He won’t have to guard the opposing team’s #1 wide receiver on every down, as that job falls to Artie Burns. Mike Mitchell lines up at free safety, with JJ Wilcox backing him up if injured. Sean Davis is getting better by the game at strong safety. Mike Hilton and Will Gay will be in at slot corner positions when called upon.
Ben Roethlisberger (2,597 yards passing | 16 TD passes | 10 interceptions | 14 sacks)
Le’Veon Bell (886 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD’s | 49 receptions | 308 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
James Conner (113 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Antonio Brown (70 receptions | 1,026 receiving yards | 6 receiving TD’s)
Juju Smith-Schuster (33 receptions | 568 receiving yards | 5 receiving TD’s)
Martavis Bryant (23 receptions | 306 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
Eli Rogers (8 receptions | 66 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Justin Hunter (3 receptions | 18 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (1 receptions | 44 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Jesse James (25 receptions | 214 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
Vance McDonald (5 receptions | 79 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
Xavier Grimble (1 receptions | 12 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 19-20 | FG: 18-20 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 9-9 | 30-39: 7-9 | 40-49: 7-8 | 50+: 1-1 | Long: 50)
A look at the Green Bay Packers!
Overall Record: 5-5
Head Coach: Mike McCarthy (12th Season with Packers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 119-66-1 (.642) | 119-66-1 (.642) with Packers
Playoff Record: 10-8 (Qualified for playoffs 9 times)
Last Week: Ravens 23 Packers 0
Scouting the Packers
Quarterback- Brett Hundley is terrible. Losing Aaron Rodgers was the death stroke to the Packers season.
Running Backs – Who is left? Jamaal Williams may be the only healthy back in the Packer running game.
Wide Receivers – Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson are a great trio, but without Rodgers…
Tight Ends – Lance Kendricks has never lived up to his potential.
Defense – They weren’t good, to begin with, but are wearing down trying to overcompensate for the lack of an offense.
Brett Hundley (940 yards passing | 2 TD passes | 7 interceptions | 17 sacks | 104 yards rushing | 2 TD’s)
Jamaal Williams (158 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 9 receptions | 83 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Ty Mongomery (273 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 23 receptions | 173 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
Davante Adams (50 receptions | 620 receiving yards | 6 receiving TD’s)
Randall Cobb (39 receptions | 405 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
Jordy Nelson (35 receptions | 382 receiving yards | 6 receiving TD’s)
Geronimo Allison (11 receptions | 167 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Lance Kendricks (10 receptions | 140 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
Mason Crosby (Extra Point: 21-23 | FG: 11-14 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 6-6 | 30-39: 1-3 | 40-49: 3-3 | 50+: 1-2 | Long: 50)
Fantasy Football Impact
Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, Steelers D
Sleeper: WR Martavis Bryant
Brown and Bell are always going to be in your starting line-up if you are lucky enough to have them. Roethlisberger almost always plays well at home in Prime Time. With Smith-Schuster out, Bryant has a good chance to put up some big numbers Sunday night.
Green Bay Packers
Start: No One
Sleeper: No One
Steelers – Packers: Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Steelers Offense: Steelers average 366.5 | Packers allow 340.1 YPG
Rushing: Steelers average 102.4 YPG | Packers allow 105.7 YPG
Passing: Steelers average 264.1 YPG | Packers allow 234.4 YPG
Scoring: Steelers average 22.7 PPG | Packers allow 23 PPG
Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 287.6 YPG | Packers average 334.9 YPG
Rushing: Steelers allow 97.6 YPG | Packers average 102.4 YPG
Passing: Steelers allow 190 YPG | Packers average 232.5 YPG
Scoring: Steelers allow 16.5 PPG | Packers average 20.4 PPG
Injury Report (11/24/2017)
Out: CB Joe Haden (Fibula), TE Vance McDonald (Ankle), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Hamstring)
Questionable: S Mike Mitchell (Ankle)
Green Bay Packers
Out: RB Aaron Jones (Knee)
Doubtful: DT Kenny Clark (Ankle), RB Ty Montgomery (Ribs)
Questionable: S Morgan Burnett (Groin), CB Kevin King (Shoulder), C Corey Linsley (Back), LB Clay Matthews (Groin), RB Devante Mays (Ankle), G Patrick Lucas (Hand)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Schedule
Friday, Aug. 11 @ New York Giants W, 20-12 (KDKA)
Sunday, Aug. 20 ATLANTA W, 17-13 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 26 INDIANAPOLIS L, 19-15 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 31 @ Carolina W, 17-14 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (8-2)
Sunday, Sept. 10 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. (CBS), W – 21-18
Sunday, Sept. 17 MINNESOTA 1 p.m. (FOX), W – 26-9
Sunday, Sept. 24 @ Chicago 1 p.m. (CBS), L – 17-23
Sunday, Oct. 1 @ Baltimore 1 p.m. (CBS), W – 26-9
Sunday, Oct. 8 JACKSONVILLE 1 p.m. (CBS), L – 9-30
Sunday, Oct. 15 @ Kansas City 4:25 p.m. (CBS), W – 19-13
Sunday, Oct. 22 CINCINNATI 4:25 p.m. (CBS), W – 29-14
Sunday, Oct. 29 @ Detroit* 8:30 p.m. (NBC), W – 20-15
Sunday, Nov. 5 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 12 @ Indianapolis* 1 p.m. (CBS), W – 20-17
Thursday, Nov. 16 TENNESSEE 8:25 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon), W – 40-17
Sunday, Nov. 26 GREEN BAY* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Monday, Dec. 4 @ Cincinnati 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Dec. 10 BALTIMORE* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 17 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 25 @ Houston 4:30 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Dec. 31 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
* – Times may change due to ﬂexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 6-7 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 13-14 Divisional Playoﬀ Games
Sunday, Jan. 21 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 28 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 4 Super Bowl LII (Minneapolis, Minn.)