Green Bay Packers (5-5 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 26 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Heinz Field
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB +14/PIT -14
Over/Under Total: 41.5
Im sure the NBC folks were excited for the Aaron Rodgers v. Ben Roethlisberger matchup when the schedule dropped but this year has been brutal for big name injuries and this weeks Packers/Steelers tilt has lost most of its luster. Green Bay has been one of the worst teams in the league since their MVP quarterback went down and Pittsburgh enters as winners of five straight so this one is predicted to be a walk for the home team. Green Bays struggling defense is dealing with some big name injuries as well, further depressing their chances at winning this week. Pittsburgh is marching toward the playoffs, perhaps a #1 seed if they can stay hot, and a soft Packer team is definitely a plus for their overall chances.
Given the struggles in Green Bay, it is not a shock to see them as 14-point underdogs. Two touchdowns is a very big number but Pittsburgh is a tough team at home having won four of the last six ATS at Heinz Field. Green Bay has just one ATS win in their last five overall and enter on an 0-4 ATS skid against teams with a winning record. Pittsburgh is the 4th rated team by the Sagarin metrics with Green Bay at #16 and those computers are modeling a 24-15 Steeler win.
Green Bay has been nearly rudderless since losing Rodgers and the little steps of progress gained in a win against the Bears were erased last week in a 23-0 loss to Baltimore. The Ravens forced four Packer turnovers and sacked Brett Hundley six times during the rout. That spells trouble for Green Bay as they have now allowed the 2nd most sacks in the league and Pittsburgh enters with the 2nd most sacks. The Steelers have looked uneven with some close wins against teams like Cleveland but they have been able to get those Ws even when they havent been on their game. Pittsburgh is just a bit better than the league average in points per game (22.7) but that kind of effort may be enough to cover this spread as the Steeler D has moved to 2nd in points allowed at 16.5 per game. The Packers have averaged 13.4 points per game under Hundley and that total would qualify for last if expanded out to a whole season.
The injuries are seemingly endless in Green Bay and Clay Matthews got caught up in it last week. Matthews recorded a sack for the first time in five games against the Ravens but promptly pulled his groin and is now a game-time decision. Kevin King has earned a starting cornerback nod as a rookie but he is questionable with a shoulder injury and safety Morgan Burnett is also questionable. The Packers pass defense has fallen to 18th and they need their preferred starters on the field, especially with the offense underperforming. Pittsburgh is mostly clean on the injury report but JuJu Smith-Schuster could miss the game with a bad hamstring. Smith-Schuster is second on the team in receiving yards and touchdowns but the Steelers have plenty of talent as part of the 8th best passing offense. Martavis Bryant is a capable fill-in and most of the looks go through Antonio Brown anyway. As it has been for most of the games this season, Green Bay is dangerously undermanned.
Mike McCarthy remains confident in Brett Hundley but that is starting to look like empty coach-speak as the third year quarterback has thrown just two touchdowns against seven interceptions. Hundley is a nifty scrambler but he has been prone to leaving the pocket too early and he is averaging just 5.9 yards per attempt. The offensive line isnt providing a ton of protection for Hundley but he hasnt helped himself by missing open receivers or simply making poor throws as he did last week. Jordy Nelson has been very quiet over the last few weeks and this is one of the times where you might suggest forcing a ball to a receiver. Green Bay is also down to one healthy running back, making it harder for McCarthy to remain committed to the run. Pittsburgh is 3rd in passing defense and 2nd in total yards allowed so it is shaping up to be another long day for Hundley and the Packer passing game.
WIthout Rodgers in the game, Pittsburgh has a decided advantage in the playmaking department. LeVeon Bell is nearly at 1,200 scrimmage yards through ten games and he will see plenty of action in the passing game as the Green Bay linebackers have struggled to cover backs. They allowed ten receptions to Baltimore running backs last week and none are really as integrated in the offense as Bell. Pittsburgh is only 20th in rushing yards per game but they move to 11th in total yards and Big Ben has the veteran presence to attack the Packers defense in whatever manner necessary. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns but also 10 interceptions with an 87 rating. Look for a better performance this week as Green Bay allows QBs to average a 93 rating.
It just looks like there are far more questions than answers for the Packers at the moment. They have been decimated by injuries and neither side of the ball has been able to perform at a high level on a regular basis. There were plenty of frustrated looks on the sidelines against Baltimore and Green Bay looks like they are every bit the 14-point dog the books have them at. Pittsburgh hasnt been perfect by any means but they are really tough to beat at Heinz Field and they have the ability to put the pedal down on both sides of the ball. There is just too much going wrong for the Packers right now to think they can get off the mat against a good team on the road. Look for a 28-10 Pittsburgh win.
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Pittsburgh. – Bet this game for FREE by taking advantage of a FAT 100% bonus up to $1000 at MyBookie! (Use Promo Code: PRDCT14)