Things will only get tougher for the Green Bay Packers as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Week 12. Here’s three things to watch.
The primetime matchup features two teams that are trending in opposite directions.
Green Bay has lost four of its last five games and sit at 5-5. The Packers’ season is beginning to slip away.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is surging on a five-game win streak, sitting atop the AFC with an 8-2 record.
Here are my three things to watch in Sunday night’s game.
Since taking over for the injured Aaron Rodgers, Hundley has been horrible in relief for the Packers.
Through six games, he’s only completed 96 of 158 passes (60.8 percent) for 940 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions. His indecisiveness and lack of field awareness has been displayed from the start.
Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette put Hundley’s awful play into perspective.
This week, it should be no surprise that Hundley will continue to struggle against one of the top ranked pass defenses in the NFL.
Despite the Packers’ offense only averaging 14 points since Hundley became the starter, Mike McCarthy is sticking with his quarterback.
"“Brett Hundley is our starter. I believe in Brett Hundley,” McCarthy said to the media after Sunday’s 23-0 loss to the Ravens. “It didn’t go very well obviously today. We understand the standard that has been set here. We’re all part of it. Brett Hundley is part of that too. We’ll burn the tape.”"
Burning the tape will not takeaway a loss in the standings for the Packers.
McCarthy needs to consider putting Joe Callahan in. Not because Callahan is a better option, but to see if Green Bay has a viable backup quarterback.
Whether it’s Hundley or Callahan, this is not an ideal situation for any team trying to keep their season alive.
Containing Steelers offense
Green Bay’s defense made plenty of stops last week against the Ravens, but this week it will be a lot tougher against the Steelers’ potent offense.
Luckily for the Packers, it appears veteran safety Morgan Burnett will be ready to return after missing the last two games with a groin injury.
Rookie cornerback Kevin King was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, as he continues to battle through a shoulder injury. Linebacker Clay Matthews is listed as questionable, after exiting last week’s game with a groin injury.
Even with Burnett and King on the field, the Packers still do not have enough manpower to contain Ben Roethlisberger and company.
Roethlisberger has had regular season success against the Packers, throwing for 670 yards, five touchdowns and one interception, in two victories.
A majority of those numbers came the last time the Packers traveled to Heinz Field in 2009. He exploded that day for 503 yards and two touchdowns.
But of course, the Packers got the best of the Steelers when it mattered most, Super Bowl XLV.
Nevertheless, Green Bay’s defense will have its hands full.
Antonio Brown has been one of the most consistent wide receivers in the league and Le’Veon Bell’s patience and vision has made him one of the league’s top backs.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced rookie wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster will be out with a hamstring injury. But they still have Martavis Bryant.
Packers rushing attack
Green Bay leaned on its run game in the team’s lone victory since Hundley took over at quarterback against the Chicago Bears.
Last week, the Packers completed abandoned the run against the Ravens and relied too much on Hundley. They compiled 75 yards on 25 carries. Jamaal Williams led the group with 18 carries for 57 yards.
Fellow rookie Devante Mays was also featured, but fumbled twice, while rushing for minus-1 yard on three caries.
Williams will likely be the starting back once again this week. Aaron Jones did not practice on Thursday, still nursing a knee injury and Ty Montgomery’s status is unknown with a rib injury.
Jones also finds himself in legal trouble, but will likely finish the season without punishment.
If the Packers want to have any chance against the Steelers, they need to rely on the Williams’ tough running. They need to keep the Steelers offense on the sideline and control the clock.
Two tasks that are much easier said than done.