The Steelers head into week 10 needing a win to keep them competitive in the AFC North. As of now, every North team is scheduled to make the playoffs, signifying just how close this race will be. It doesn’t hurt that this week is a perceived layup as well. The Packers had a hot start to the season but have since struggled to win.
These are games to have to win. Winning ugly against teams is fine, but you also need to win the games you are supposed to win. The Packers have some positives as a team, but they certainly aren’t a premiere threat. Here are the three keys to victory for the Steelers this Sunday.
Steelers need to let their running backs cook
While the season hasn’t featured the bully ball scheme Pittsburgh seemingly envisioned from the offseason, the line and running backs are starting to get everything together. Najee Harris has been consistent while Jaylen Warren has proven to be an effective change of pace option. The line has also gotten better as blockers.
The Packers boast a strong secondary this week, but a front seven that has struggled against run games. While I would assume they are game-planning around the Steelers running game, this offense has to move through the ground. The Steelers' strength is the Packers' weakness, and that needs to be exploited.
Steelers need to force Jordan Love to win the game
While the Steelers have a pair of talented backs, the Packers also boast two of the better options in the backfield. Aaron Jones is hard to tackle and A.J. Dillon has a lot of power in his game. While defenses have keyed in on both for similar reasons defenses do the same to the Steelers, you can’t let this tandem get going.
Instead, the focus has to be on letting Jordan Love beat you. He looked okay early on, but when the offense runs through him, he showed some obvious cracks. Stop the run and force Love to beat you is key. While it may allow some bigger throws, Love has had quite a few mistakes that Pittsburgh could capitalize on.
The Steelers can’t beat themselves
The age-old fear of a “trap game”, Pittsburgh on paper is the superior team. Their offense has shown more in recent weeks and their defense has the better talent. That said, anything is possible in the NFL, and the Steelers haven’t exactly been elite so far this week. They can’t beat themselves this week if they want to win.
Stay on schedule, get the run game going, and chew up the clock. It doesn’t have to be dominant, it just has to be enough to get the Steelers through to the next week. Stupid mistakes and turnovers can give a hapless Packers team the boost they need to pull the upset.
The Steelers have a very winnable game in front of them this week, but they need to make sure they don’t relapse into their horrible ways. Run the ball, stay on schedule, and get the needed win this week. If they follow these three keys, it should be Pittsburgh’s game to lose.