22

December

Steelers vs. Packers: Keys to the Game

Matt Flynn and Eddie Lacy

The “Big Three” need a strong performance on Sunday

The Green Bay Packers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers and wrap up the AFC portion of their 2013 schedule this week.  While this is a rematch of Super Bowl XLV, that seems so long ago and, as is often the case in professional sport, both teams have changed since then.

The Steelers have regressed this season and are all but eliminated from playoff contention.  That does not, however, mean that they have stopped playing to win, as was evidenced in last week’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.  It was Pittsburgh’s most complete game of the season and if they want to spoil their opponents’ party over these next two games, they are peaking at the right time.

With just two games left, the playoff scenarios are shaping up and as well as the storylines.  None is bigger than the status of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  On Friday, it was announced that Rodgers will not play against the Steelers as he could not be medically cleared from his broken collarbone.  The Packers can’t afford to lose either of their last two games and they’ll have to rely on backup quarterback Matt Flynn to help them get past the Steelers.

While the news on Rodgers wasn’t what the team nor fans wanted to hear, the Packers need only look back one week to see what they are capable of without him.  After going winless in their first four games after Rodgers’ injury, Green Bay has now won two straight.  Those wins have put the Packers in position win the NFC North and get into the postseason by winning their last two games.

What seemed improbable is still within reach at this late stage of the 2013 season, but there is still a lot of work to be done in Green Bay.  Let’s look at some of the keys that will factor into this week’s outcome and how the Packers can score a big win in their 2013 home finale.

The First Half Counts

Someone should remind the Packers that it is OK and possible to start fast and score in the first half.  Although Green Bay has won their last two games, their first half performance in each was abysmal, to put it nicely.  During that span, Green Bay has been outscored 47 – 13.  They obviously overcame those deficits (11 points vs. Atlanta, 23 points vs. Dallas) to win, but we should also remember that was against the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys.  Neither of those teams are known for their defense.

22

December

Steelers vs. Packers Week 16 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 16: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 8-6 Green Bay Packers 24-23
Pittsburgh is better than their record indicates. Who wins depends on which Packers defense shows up. I like the Packers at home as the NFC North comes down to Packers vs Bears next week
“Jersey” Al Bracco 7-7 Green Bay Packers 24-16
The Packers defense will come up with some stops when needed, holding the Steelers to field goals and the offense will get off to a better start and never look back.
Adam Czech 9-5 Green Bay Packers 24-22
A late Mason Crosby field goal in the snow makes the difference in this one.
Marques Eversoll 8-6 Green Bay Packers 24-23
Aaron Rodgers or not, the Packers are two wins away from a playoff berth. They need this one to keep the season going, and Dom Capers’ defense will step up to the plate.
Thomas Hobbes 7-7 Green Bay Packers 21-20
The Steelers don’t have any playoff hopes and the Packers have learned that they can win without Rodgers. Pittsburgh isn’t all that strong of a team either and home field advantage will be in the Packers favor; this team likes to sneak by on one point.
Cory Jennerjohn 11-3 Green Bay Packers 23-20
Not having Aaron Rodgers yet again is bad but Eddie Lacy in the snow might be the next best thing. The secondary showed signs of life last week against Tony Romo and should show up against the lesser Ben Roethlisberger at home. The game will be won by by the Packers’ linebackers.
Jason Perone 8-6 Green Bay Packers 27-20
Many are expecting a high-scoring affair between these two teams but a cold day and a good chance of snow suggests otherwise.  This isn’t Brett Favre vs. the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs, this is Matt Flynn.  Still, the Packers are one of the league’s best at home in December and they will come ready to play, especially Clay Matthews and Eddie Lacy.
Chad Toporski 7-7 Pittsburgh Steelers 20-23
18

December

Around the NFC North: Week 16

Around the NFC North

This week’s slate of NFC North games could set up a huge finish to the 2013 regular season

Week 15 brought about some major fireworks around the NFC North, culminating with the Monday night game between the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens.  The Lions scored a late touchdown to take the lead but allowed the Ravens to drive and give kicker Justin Tucker a shot at a game winning 61-yard field goal.  He made it and suddenly, the Lions find themselves in third place behind the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

On Sunday, the Bears were able to hang on and pick up a valuable road win against the Cleveland Browns.  It was Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s first game back in over a month and while he was admittedly a bit rusty, he was able to create enough to get Chicago the win.  The Bears are now alone in first place in the North.

The Minnesota Vikings spanked the visiting Philadelphia Eagles and brought the birds back down to earth a bit, ending Phily’s five-game winning streak.  What is more impressive is that Minnesota did so without the services of their best player in that of running back Adrian Peterson.  They were also without running back Toby Gerhart but they did manage to get three rushing touchdowns from. . Matt Asiata?  While the Vikings are playing for pride, at this point, they certainly showed plenty on Sunday.

Benefiting from the Eagles’ loss, albeit ever so slightly, was the Dallas Cowboys.  In Sunday’s late game and America’s “Game of the Week”, the Cowboys hosted the Packers.  Green Bay had not won in nine previous trips (including playoffs) to Dallas and had lost 11 of their last 12 there, spanning over a 24-year period.  That record, however, was at the old Texas Stadium in Irving.  This game would be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where the Packers won their most recent Super Bowl in February of 2011.

After heading in the halftime locker room down 26-3, the Packers seemed all but done for the day.  Many suggested that they just board the bus and head home.  I know because I was among them.  After watching this team flail through the past five games, it seemed highly unlikely that they could overcome such a deficit.  They did just that, however, capitalizing on two huge interceptions late in the fourth quarter to seal the comeback victory over the Cowboys, 37-36.  No team or fan base was more elated by the Lions loss to the Ravens than the Packers, as they remain in contention for a division title and can secure it on their own and without help.