Packers writer shares insight, makes prediction on game vs Steelers
By Tommy Jaggi
I recently caught up with Paul Bretl from Dairyland Express as he shares his thoughts and game prediction on Steelers vs Packers in Week 4.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have to be lacking confidence as the Cincinnati Bengals wiped the floor with them in Week 3. After losing two consecutive home games in which the offense failed to show up, Mike Tomlin’s team ventures to Wisconsin this week to take on the Green Bay Packers.
After a cringe-worthy start to the season that began with a 38-3 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Packers have since bounced back — scoring at 32.5 points per game over their last two contests.
Recently, I caught up with Paul Bretl, writer for Dairyland Express, to discuss the Steelers upcoming matchup against the Packers. As an avid Packers follower, Bretl gives his insight as to how Green Bay has looked in the early going as well as his prediction for the game:
How have the Packers looked in their first three games?
Good, bad, and just about everything in between. It’s been a mixed bag, which is a big reason why I had no clue what we were going to see from Green Bay in San Francisco.
The first game against New Orleans was clearly an anomaly, and since then, the offense has really started to find its rhythm. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are carving up defenses, the offensive line, which had some question marks, is holding up well, and Green Bay is establishing and sticking to the run game.
On defense, things have been progressing in the right direction—but there is still work to be done. There were quite a few communication breakdowns in Week 1, but none that I can think of against San Francisco. We are also seeing more blitzing and play call variety from Joe Barry.
Aaron Rodgers is coming off a fourth-quarterback comeback win in Week 3? How do you think he will perform against the Steelers defense this week?
As good as Rodgers has been, just like any other week, the key for him and this offense will be that the offensive line gives him time — which they have for the most part — and that Green Bay sticks to the run game.
It hasn’t happened often under Matt LaFleur, but when the Packers have lost, they’ve often become one-dimensional with the run game forgotten about and Rodgers going off-script—Week 1 against New Orleans is a prime example of this.
But if the offensive line can neutralize the Pittsburgh pass rush–giving Rodgers time to connect with his receivers, and Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon get 20-25 touches — which will also help open up the passing game — this offense is going to be difficult for any defense to stop.
What would you consider to be the biggest weakness on the Packers?
Despite having Kenny Clark, the interior defensive line and the run defense is what I would consider the weak part of this Packers team.
The mantra here in Green Bay among the fan base has been “get Kenny Clark some help,” as he has been surrounded by what many would consider back-end or fringe roster players. With that said, ironically enough, Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster are coming off two strong performances in San Francisco, and as a defense, they held the 49ers to only 3.2 yards per rush.
But based on what we’ve seen in the past, I’ll need to see more of what I saw this past Sunday before I truly believe that the unit has turned things around.
Who is a player on each side of the ball who can make an impact in this game that Steelers fans might not be aware of?
On defense, watch for linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. He was signed early on this summer as a free agent and has provided the Packers with a real upgrade at the linebacker position. While not flashy, he is steady against the run, against the pass, and as a blitzer. He leads the team in tackles and is always around the football.
On offense, I think many may know the name Marcedes Lewis, a former first-round pick who is in his 16th NFL season, but he plays such an important role despite rarely filling the stat sheet. The Packers often utilize the tight end like a sixth offensive lineman. He creates space and running lanes in the run game and can be a big help in pass-pro as well. The last two seasons, he has been one of PFF’s best blocking tight ends.
This isn’t a flashy selection, and with what Lewis is asked to do, it’s easy for him to go unnoticed — although he will make a reception or find the end zone from time to time — but when you’re talking about impact, his is massive.
What is your prediction for the Steelers vs Packers game?
I have the Packers winning this one. It’s at Lambeau Field, and I really feel that their last-second win against the 49ers was a galvanizing moment — a term that Rodgers has used in the past — that will propel them forward.
The Pittsburgh defense shouldn’t be taken lightly, but ultimately I don’t believe that the Steeler offense will be able to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.