Steffen: The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are heading in opposite directions.
The Packers are riding high, winning their last five games in a row. The Steelers have succumbed to injuries and in-fighting and have been loser of their last five contests.
On paper, the Packers should dominate, but as we know, football, especially the NFL, is a game of intangibles. For all it’s brutality and toughness, NFL football is often decided by the fragile yet combustible psyche of the players.
My point is that the Packers would be wise not to take this game lightly. The Steelers are still the defending Super Bowl champions. They are still the proud and historic team that most Packers fans respect.
This year’s Steelers come into the game with their bodies and ego battered. I would expect them to come out gunning. This will be one of their last opportunities to prove that they remain a premier team. A victory over Green Bay would go a long way towards saving some face.
However, it just feels like there is too much in Green Bay’s favor. Though it was a little clunky last week, the Packers’ offense is as balanced and explosive as I can remember. There was a pathetic attempt by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week to drum up some controversy over the increased amount of looks Jermichael Finley has been getting. But honestly, having this many weapons is a bad thing? Who do you double team?
Much has been made of the Packers’ defense. Count me among the early season doubters, but like the line towed by each of Packers’ defenders, I too have bought into Dom Capers’ system.
It would be difficult to find two defensive players on the same team hotter than Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews right now. The Steelers have had offensive line problems comparable to the Packers’ but they haven’t fixed them. Big Ben Roethlisberger has been running, er, stumbling for his life all season. Matthews and company have to be licking their chops.
This will be a hard-hitting emotional game. With the notoriously shitty condition of Heinz Field, the game will be sloppy and low scoring. It will stay close because Green Bay still has not solved their penalty and special teams woes. In the end, the Steelers defense simply misses Troy Polamalu too much. Aaron Rodgers along with the Packers’ defense will lead Green Bay to victory.
Packers 17, Steelers 13
Sarah: The Packers are playing some of their best football right now, but the offensive line will be tested by Pittsburgh’s two outstanding rushers in outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton haven’t faced a rushing duo like that yet this season, and the Steelers are known for one of the most confusing blitz packages in the league. The line must protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
On the other side of the ball, the defense must get to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, or at least keep him in the pocket. Big Ben is hard to bring down, and has a penchant for making big plays when he’s on the run. The Packers may be able to snuff out a few drives if they can get him on the ground a few times.
Pittsburgh wideout Hines Ward has had extra time to rest since the Steelers’ loss to Cleveland, and could be a factor if Charles Woodson & Co. can’t keep him contained, but I have a feeling they will.
This will be a good matchup, and a good test of the Packers’ will heading into the most important part of the season. However, the team’s momentum is hard to stop right now.
Packers 20, Steelers 14