Key Battles, Week 12 Edition: Green Bay at Pittsburgh

With the season nearly on the line, Green Bay faces one of its toughest tests yet on the road in Pittsburgh. 

No need to sugarcoat it. This one could get ugly. Green Bay’s continually shrinking playoff hopes are expected to take another hit on the road against the streaking 8-2 Steelers. If the Packers have a hope and a prayer it’s that Pittsburgh plays an uncharacteristically sloppy game. 
 
Here are the key battles for Sunday night. 
 

Establishing run against the odds

If the Packers are able to do anything offensively against Pittsburgh, it’s likely to be in the running game. That’s both telling and sobering given that Green Bay is down to Jamaal Williams and Devante Mays. What’s more, for the run game to be a difference-maker Williams and Mays will probably have to play out of their minds. 
 
This isn’t easy to imagine but is somehow a more likely scenario than the Brett Hundley-led passing offense suddenly finding its groove against a smothering Pittsburgh passing defense. The Steelers boast plenty of impressive statistics to back up their production. They rank fourth in total defense and second in scoring. In 11 games they’ve surrendered just nine passing touchdowns while piling up 34 sacks (good for second in the league). 
 
Against an impressive but less formidable Ravens defense, Hundley was jittery in the pocket and repeatedly missed the open man—often retreating at the slightest sign of pressure.
 
If Pittsburgh is smart they’ll set out to stuff the run and dare Hundley to beat him with his arm. The Packers’ best chance at making Sunday competitive will be to run the ball well against the odds. 
 

Putting a leash on Pittsburgh playmakers 

As if it wasn’t enough to deal with Pittsburgh’s defense, the Packers must find a way to limit a pair of the league’s top playmakers in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Recent opponents have opted to focus on Bell first, and with positive results, but the Steelers are still on a win streak despite Bell’s recent struggles. Instead, they’ve turned to Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and the last time out this translated into a 40-point outburst against a decent Titans team. 
 
Even with explosive rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster sidelined, the Steelers have a lot of ways to beat you. 
 

The search for big play production 

There’s admittedly not a lot of hope for Green Bay in this one. Vegas naming them 14-point dogs in the contest is a good indicator. But *if* the Packers are to stand a chance it figures to come from the aforementioned—running the ball well while limiting Pittsburgh’s playmakers—but also in getting significant big-play production. Whether it’s a fumble here, a tipped-pass interception there a big return or blocked punt, the Packers will need to get the majority of the good bounces. 
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Comments (7)

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

November 25, 2017 at 11:41 am

Key battles is this even serious key battles makes my brain Ponder what's going on here how can there be any key battles and we battles as a when's against ourselves we're Our Own Worst Enemy

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TommyG's picture

November 25, 2017 at 11:43 am

Yeah.... well.... damn.

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TarynsEyes's picture

November 25, 2017 at 12:21 pm

The biggest battle will be turning this game on but, I'll overcome the challenge via holding the remote with good shoulder {pad} level, head up to see the channel numbers and not letting anyone knock the remote from my hands {fumbles}

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TommyG's picture

November 25, 2017 at 04:11 pm

The genius of MM coaching is realized!

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DD's picture

November 25, 2017 at 07:14 pm

Against the Steelers defense don't plan on any improvement from Hunfley, MM, or DC. I have a feeling, based on previous games, that we are going to get a real ass kicking. You say pessimist? Loyal fan, but a realist who tells it like it is. The good part is the possible removal of TT, MM, DC, and the scout team. Probability of that happening? With Murphy, probably zero %. So endure this season and buckle up for another season of "what the hell?" Ad Rodgers Grows another year older. Oh my.

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joepacker's picture

November 26, 2017 at 04:09 am

Whenever I mention I'm a proud packer backer, people will often nod knowingly and say "community owned." While I've always been proud of that, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not proud of the IDEA, more than the current reality. the flip side of never having to be hamstrung by some highstrung idiot like jerry jones, is a lack of accountability, focus and motivation at the top. murphy may be a good man at the nfl table, but he's not going to walk into 1265, take hold of the ship and fire anyone, is he? tt was once good for the team, but he's been trending downward long enough that if he was a player in this decline, he'd have ingloriously let himself walk by now.

here's one for you - along with the dump tt, mm, mm, dc, et al, carosel; how about a structural change that brings more accountability? imagine a system that reports to the stockholders as much as real estate developers? a leadership with the vision to inspire both team and community? imagine if the team and its fans were no longer held hostage to winning records in a weak division or perpetually sold out benches despite perpetually uneven play in the playoffs.

Well, guess what? how about a losing record in a suddenly reemergent division, and no playoffs? that's a real possibility now and, sadly, possibly into the future. remember sherman? if that happens, I wonder if a drop in fan support will follow?

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DD's picture

November 26, 2017 at 09:03 am

You're points are very good and valid. One other thing, get rid of the current scouting team too alomg with their white canes. Unfortunately, the Packer coaches and management could care a rats ass what we write. It'll be the same hamster wheel.

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