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Packers Periscope: Week 12 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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Packers Periscope: Week 12 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Green Bay Packers get another prime time game and face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.  Despite Green Bay's recent struggles, the game wasn't flexed out of the Sunday Night Football slot and a larger audience will get a look at Brett Hundley as Packers starting quarterback.

This NFC/AFC match up, much like last week's, doesn't have an extensive history but at least the total meetings is in double digits.  On to a deeper look.

The Past

The Packers lead the all-time series, 19-15.  Their most recent win over the Steelers came in Super Bowl XLV in early 2011.  Pittsburgh has won four of the last five so the Packers own a recent case of "quality over quantity".   

The series dates back to 1933 and the Packers won the first nine meetings.  In recent history, there have been a few exciting games. 

On Christmas Eve 1995, the Packers prevailed when Steelers receiver Yancy Thigpen dropped a sure game-winning touchdown at game's end.  The win gave the Packers the NFC Central division title.

In 2009, Aaron Rodgers got his first start against the Steelers and went blow-for-blow with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a late-season game.  The Packers held a 36-30 lead with time for one more snap.  Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace (who just faced the Packers as a member of the Baltimore Ravens) for a highlight-reel touchdown catch to tie it up.  The extra point gave the Steelers the win.

These teams haven't faced each other before the month of November since 1992.  The Packers haven't won in Pittsburgh since 1970.  Still, most Packers fans would gladly trade in the recent shortcomings for the team's latest Super Bowl win.

The Present

The Steelers sit at 8-2 and have won their last five games.  One of those eight wins came against the Minnesota Vikings and that is significant only in that it resulted in a Vikings loss, which is always a good day.

The Packers, by contrast, have lost four of their last five.  Last week's shutout at home to the Ravens was a new low point in 2017 and did nothing to instill confidence in anyone outside of 1265 Lombardi Avenue that they have a fighting chance in this game in Pittsburgh.

As if the Packers didn't have a hard enough time generating offense, they face a Steelers defense that is allowing the second-fewest points per game with 16.5.  Pittsburgh allows their opponents just 33 percent conversion on third down.  

The Steelers are also second in the league in sacks with 34 on the season.  Last week, Baltimore's pass rush was a problem for Hundley and the offense and they will get no relief this week.  The Steelers have 12 interceptions on the season, good for fifth-best in the NFL.

The Steelers are currently 14-point favorites and after last week, the expectations for what a Hundley-led Packers offense can do in Pittsburgh are extremely low.  This is the type of game where a loss by fewer than 10 points might be seen as a success.  If the Packers can just find the end zone, that will likely produce many sighs of relief.

The Steelers average just 22.7 points per game to Green Bay's 20.4 so this may not end up a high-scoring game.  Packers safety Morgan Burnett is likely to return and help fortify a secondary that has dealt with injury after injury this season.  Roethlisberger has thrown 10 interceptions this season.

Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell has been one of the league's best since entering the NFL in 2013.  He has 886 yards on the season and can reach 1,000 in this game with 114 yards or more on the ground.  He's topped the 100-yard mark just three times this season.

The Future

The future isn't looking too green and gold right now for the Packers.  Reports leading into the Baltimore game were that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was starting to do some running and individual drills in practice.  His potential return could have been a springboard for the team but instead, it was the thud of a shutout loss.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has taken a pounding from fans for the performance of Hundley and his management of the offense since Rodgers went down.  While the numbers show that other teams are currently facing similar or worse productivity on offense (ahem, Dallas Cowboys, ahem, Dak Prescott), fans are quickly souring on the poor showings by the Pack.

This week has drawn comparisons to 2010 when the Packers went to New England as double-digit underdogs to face the Patriots with Matt Flynn at quarterback.  McCarthy made his famous "we're nobody's underdog" statement and the Packers played New England tight all game long.

Those are nice to try and parallel, but that was then and this is now.  Hundley will be making his fifth start and on the road against one of the league's best teams, it's hard to be too optimistic.

Somehow the Packers should keep it closer than 14 points, but not by much.  They may improve and Hundley may show better than he did last week, but the Packers will return to Green Bay under the .500 mark for the first time this season.

-- Jason is a freelance writer and has been on staff since 2012.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Razer's picture

Like most, I can't see a Hundley led Packers pulling off a Matt Flynn-NE miracle. I will be interested to see how much grit the team shows particularly on defense. I wanted to see how we handled Le'Veon Bell with Kenny Clark and the D-line playing tough ball. It will be interesting to see how we fare without Clark in the middle. Not that I like watching those disaster videos, but, I do want to see what this secondary does against Big Ben and Antonio Brown.

If we hold Pittsburgh to something like we did against Baltimore - it will be a moral victory. If we can score into the double digits - break out the champagne.

Play Hard Packers!

Razer's picture

BTW - did any of you watch the Chargers-Cowboys game? Philip Rivers almost always had a guy underneath that was wide open. I don't know how many quick passes he made to guys on delayed crossing routes that went for good yardage. I just can't figure out why the Packers never seem to have WR, TE or RB's open under the coverages. MM needs to move this offense forward!

The TKstinator's picture

I noticed that “wide open underneath” stuff too, and I do wonder why it seems like GB never gets that stuff.
Also, Rivers has a very odd throwing motion. But when you throw for over 400 in a victory, you can shot put the ball for all I care. Just win, baby!

Rossonero's picture

The Steelers play much better at home than anyway, this'll be ugly.

While we might get Burnett back, the loss of Kenny Clark will show. If I'm Mike Tomlin, I'm gonna feed LeVeon Bell 25-30 carries.

Hundley needs 3 step drops / quick passes. He's about to face one of the NFL's best pass defenses. But, knowing Mike McCarthy, it'll be more of the same as against Baltimore. It's gonna suck watching TJ Watt sack Hundley after he holds onto it for 6 seconds.

Steelers 27, Packers 6

croatpackfan's picture

You are very optimistic. You really think packers will score 2 FG?

The TKstinator's picture

GB in a laugher.

The TKstinator's picture

GB in a close one.

The TKstinator's picture

Pitt in a close one.

The TKstinator's picture

Pitt in a laugher.

The TKstinator's picture

For some odd reason, I am feeling VERY CONFIDENT that I have correctly predicted Sunday’s outcome.

Since '61's picture

I have not felt like the Packers had no chance in a game since before the Lynn Dickey era in Green Bay. Dickey gave us a chance, Majik Man gave us a chance, heck even Randy Wright gave us a chance, and we all know what it's been like with 25+ seasons of Favre and Rodgers. We always feel like we have a chance.

Even with a healthy Rodgers this would be a difficult challenge but because of Rodgers we would have a shot. But with Hundley at QB and the Steelers playing well on both sides of the ball, I just can't see how the Packers can win even if they play well.

Laveon Bell, Antonio Brown and Ben Rothlisberger against our defense, Yikes!!! Hundley against the Steelers defense, triple Yikes!!! And a nationally televised game no less.

Even if Rothlisberger was a game day scratch the Steelers second string QB would be an advantage over
Hundley. I'll be cheering for the Packers no matter what but I detest feeling like the game is over before it's played. It's been a long time since I've felt like this before a Packers game and I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. Hoping the best but expecting the worst. Thanks, Since '61

Rossonero's picture

I feel the same way. Sucks to know they'll get crushed. Lets just get a higher draft pick. It'd be silly to have Rodgers come back late in the season.

Since '61's picture

Agree Rossonero - no reason to bring Rodgers back. Let his whole body heal up for next season. Thanks, Since '61

Doug Niemczynski's picture

We are going to get blown out. Even if the packers had a fantastic def. A def cannot be on the field all game long if the offense does not sustain drives. Basic football knowlege...get your head out of your rears. . 14 pt loss please. 30+ point loss easy

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Bottom line packers LOSE

Samson's picture

Please make it competitive.
We are not the Cleveland Browns.
Unfortunately, the Pack will still be 5-6 after this game.

PETER MAIZ's picture

Run the ball, still, Hundley will be sacked about 5 times, throw 3 interceptions and for my final score, I feel it may be 31 to 10 or worse. Hundley isn't ready for the powerful Steelers defence and they will probably shred him to pieces. Steel, Big Ben may be intercepted once and will probably not be sacked. The Packers will be the Titanic sinking fast. Bad foresight from TT and the coaching staff. McCarthy will be embarrassed this game and the rest of the season What happens afterwards, who knows.

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