Green Bay Packers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Monday November 27th, 01:30 GMT
TV – Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Steely defence makes Pittsburgh a threat
The offensive talent of the Steelers in recent year has never been in doubt. Frustrations about their ability to get on the field together aside, it’s been clear that Pittsburgh have had the pieces in place to blow teams away when they were in the mood, healthy and available.
This season opened with the usual expectations around the Steelers offence, but they’ve taken some time to get going. In their win last week over Tennessee they broke the 30 point barrier for the first time this season, and they are still hard to trust in games where they are overwhelming favourites.
There have been murmurings about QB Ben Roethlisberger’s hunger for the game and long-term future. Locker-room chemistry was called into question around the anthem protest controversy earlier in the season. Le’veon Bell’s early season efforts were sub-par, and Martavis Bryant has found a new way to not get the ball thrown to him.
Fortunately the defence has exceeded expectations, and makes them look like the only real challenger in the AFC to the Patriots.
They are giving up, on average, 16.5 points per game, the second fewest in the league. They’ve held all but two teams to scores in the teens or less, and one of those is on Ben Roethlisberger, who just kept throwing the ball to Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs in week six’s 30-9 loss.
Cameron Hayward at defensive end has emerged as a star this season, notching seven sacks. Ryan Shazier grabs attention and interceptions in coverage situations, but it’s unlikely contributions from less heralded players have also contributed to their stout performances. Linebacker Vince Williams has six sacks, while rookie TJ Watt, younger brother of JJ, has four.
With the exception of Sacksonv- apologies, Jacksonville, there may not be a nastier defence an inexperienced QB could face in a pivotal game than the Steelers.
Enter Brett Hundley.
The flicker of optimism that followed Hundley’s moderately impressive performance against the Bears in week ten was all but doused by the shutout delivered by the stingy Ravens last week.
Hundley threw five interceptions in that game, and that performance has cast doubt on whether there will be any reason to get Aaron Rodgers suited up as soon as possible as their season may be over. The Packers have the Buccs and Browns after their trip to Pittsburgh, but they are no guaranteed wins given how Hundley has played.
Davante Adams has 210 yard through the last two games, and is making some plays to help the struggling QB, but what he really could do without is the disappearance of Aaron Jones and the running game. Jamaal Williams averaged three yards per carry this past Sunday, and the Steelers will not be any more generous than Baltimore.
Really, the first challenge for the Packers this week will be to get on the scoreboard. A nationally-televised game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh is just what they do not need right now. The Steelers are 6-0 in their last six night games.
If the Packers can at least keep the Steelers honest in this game they should move forward on 5-6 with some hope of making the postseason still intact. It is on the coaching staff to find a way to make Hundley competitive against the middling-to-poor opponents in the following weeks before the possibility of a Rodgers return begins to set fairy tale narratives in motion.
It’s difficult not to imagine the Steelers wiping the floor with Green Bay in this situation. Their offence is clicking into gear, their defence has been good all season, and the Packers are struggling to run or pass.
The line has been set accordingly, with the Steelers -14 on the Handicap market at [2.04]. No one is more reluctant than me to take a double-digit favourite, but, in this case, I’d make an exception. There’s too much to suggest the Packers won’t score and the Steelers will. The Steelers offence can be a torturous to bet on, but they have the ability rip defences apart, and even if they only score twenty points or so, it’s not clear how the Packers are going to hurt them.
The Total Points line has fluctuated throughout the week. It is currently set at 43 on the Exchange, and I’d be inclined to take the Under at [2.0] given how little I’d expect from Green Bay.
For a speculative touchdown scorer punt, I think Eli Rogers is an interesting option in both Anytime and First Touchdown Scorer markets on the Sportsbook at 11/5 and 14/1 in each market. Juju Smith-Schuster has been ruled out, and Martavis Bryant’s value to the team is still in question following his histrionics this season. Rogers could step into Smith-Schuster’s productive role, where the rookie has grabbed five scores and over 500 yards through 10 games.
1pt on the Pittsburgh Steelers -14 in the Handicap market @[2.04] on the Exchange
1pt on Under 43 in the Total Points market @[2.0] on the Exchange
.5pt on Eli Rogers in the Anytime Touchdown Scorer market @11/5 on the Sportsbook
.2pt on Eli Rogers in the Anytime Touchdown Scorer market @14/1 on the Sportsbook