The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are similar in that they have veteran quarterbacks they don’t want to push in the preseason. They’re going to be very cautious and see what they need to get from the players who are fighting to make roster spots. If they do have needs, they’re going to be more on defense than on offense.
What We Know About The Coaches
Mike McCarthy of Green Bay is 19-18 in the preseason and 1-0 this preseason. Coaching really wasn’t much of a factor in his team’s preseason win over New England last week. The fact that Tom Brady didn’t play at all had a lot to do with how New England’s offense functioned. The Patriots, within the context of the preseason and not the regular season, were a very distracted team. Don’t assign too much value to that game as far as coaches were concerned. New England scored only 11 points.
Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh is 20-15 in the preseason but 0-2 this preseason. It does appear that Pittsburgh is just not pushing too hard to win preseason games. The Steelers would never lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a regular season game, but they did last week. The main thing to remember about coaching is that the Steelers are moving forward with a new defensive coordinator this season, after longtime coordinator Dick LeBeau – who had been with the team for more than a decade – stepped away to try his hand at the same position for the Tennessee Titans. All in all, the coaching edge goes to Green Bay, but it’s a very slight edge.
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The two starting quarterbacks just don’t need much time on the field, at least in this game. Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers will get their reps next week, but don’t have to get much playing time right now. This will be about the backups, Scott Tolzien, Matt Blanchard and Brett Hundley for Green Bay; Bruce Gradkowski and especially Landry Jones for Pittsburgh. Tolzien is the best quarterback of the whole bunch, so by that measure, Green Bay again gets the edge.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Packers have plenty of guys out: offensive lineman David Bakhtiari, defensive lineman Mike Daniels, receiver Jared Abbrederis, wide receiver Javess Blue, tight end Justin Perillo, cornerback Demetri Goodson, cornerback Tay Glover-Wright, and cornerback Kyle Sebetic. Many of them are lower on the depth chart, but that’s still an accumulation of absences which could affect the balance of the game.
The Steelers are hurting, too, and they have some prominent injuries, chiefly to Lawrence Timmons and tight end Health Miller. Jordan Zumwalt, Josh Harris, Cameron Clear, C.J. Goodwin, and Vince Williams are other players on the shelf. The absence of Miller will put a crimp in Pittsburgh’s passing attack. Overall, though, the numbers of dinged-up Packers makes this a wash.
Outlook & Pick
It is true that this is actually Pittsburgh’s third preseason game, since the Steelers played the Hall of Fame Game (an exhibition only one other team plays). Back the Packers with your NFL picks here, as Pittsburgh looks like a team that’s just waiting for the regular season to start.
Pick: Packers +2.5 at Bovada