After enjoying a big victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon. The Packers (2-1) and the Steelers (1-2) are currently trending in opposite directions.
Green Bay started the year 0-1 with a miserable loss to the Saints. Meanwhile, the Steelers were riding high after a 23-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. Since then, the Packers have won two in a row while the Steelers have dropped a pair to the Raiders and the Bengals.
In their latest loss, Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd said the Steelers ‘gave up’ during their game against Cincinnati, who is still considered to be a rebuilding team. The Packers have a good opportunity ahead of them to get to 3-1 and extend their lead in the NFC North.
I think the Packers will beat the Steelers this weekend, and here are three reasons why.
1. Steelers have weakest pass protection of any opponent Packers have faced
So far this season, the Packers have faced some very good offensive linemen. In Week 1, the pass rush had to work against Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk. In Week 2, they faced Penei Sewell, who is going to be a stud tackle for the Lions for years to come, and finally last week they had to face Mike McGlinchey and Trent Brown. There hasn’t been an easy matchup for the Packers pass rush, especially with Za’Darius Smith being out.
Now this Sunday, Dan Moore Jr., Chukwuma Okorafor, and the rest of the Pittsburgh offensive line will attempt to slow down the Packers’ pass rush. On the season, the Steelers have given eight sacks, tied for the seventh-most in the league.
The interior of the defensive line has been adding some pressure too, especially in San Francisco. And by the interior, I mean Kenny Clark. He alone has been a force on the interior of the Packers defensive line.
I think the Packers are going to be able to add some pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, especially since he isn’t as nimble as he used to be.
2. The Packers offense is starting to roll
After a dismal Week 1 against the Saints where the Packers managed just 229 total yards, and just 43 on the ground, Aaron Rodgers had a passer rating of 36.8 with two interceptions and no touchdowns.
Since then, the Packers are 2-0 and averaging 338 yards per game. Rodgers has also thrown six touchdowns and the offense hasn’t turned the ball over either. This offense is humming right now, even while facing the 49ers who have a defense that is loaded on the line and at linebacker.
Now they will face the Steelers, who also have a stout defense. Plus, the Steelers will likely have T.J. Watt coming back from a groin injury that he suffered in Week 1.
Despite the Steelers’ defense, the Packers will be able to find matchups that they can work with. Whether it’s Davante Adams in the slot or Aaron Jones out of the backfield, the Packers are going to be able to move the ball and put up enough points to beat the Steelers.
3. Ben Roethlisberger just isn’t the same
Back about four or five years ago, Roethlisberger was still considered one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Now, it kind of feels like he is an old show animal that the Steelers keep trotting out every Sunday, hoping he will be able to play at somewhat of a respectable level.
It’s just kind of sad.
The Steelers brought him back after a respectable 33-touchdown and 10-interception season in 2020, but so far in 2021, Roethlisberger just doesn’t have it. He can’t seem to stay on his feet and is now throwing into quadruple coverage as well.
Last week he threw the ball 58 (!) times, completing just 65.5% of his passes for 318 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions against the Bengals. He hasn’t had the running game he’s normally had to lean on in the past, but he still has some receiving threats in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool.
Why is he checking the ball down to Najee Harris 14 times against Cincinnati? It may be the offensive scheme, but Roethlisberger just doesn’t have it anymore.
Look for the Packers’ secondary to take advantage and make some plays this weekend, especially if the pass rush can get some pressure on him.