I’ve seen more and more expert-types starting to pick the Steelers in this one. For a lot of people picking this game, the question becomes: which streak is more likely to end today, Pitt’s 5 game losing streak or the Pack’s 5 game winning streak. COnsidering it’s in Pitt, I can see why a number of folks are taking Pitt – I’m not too pumped that they are on the schedule today. But they are a different team without Polamalu and their offense has really struggled to get in gear for weeks now.
It will be key to get a turnover early in this one – rattle Big Ben in particular. A sack fumble I’d say is likely, but a pick may be out there too. They will be ready to play and no doubt play the inspired football they typically play, but one great way to diffuse that excitement is an early turnover converted into points.
Rodgers needs a big game. He’s had his share of nice games this year, but it would be really nice if he just dissects this defense. If he can do this, that would be a good sign to Packer fans that he’s arrived – not because the Pitt D is their usual staunch D, but because he’ll then be able to say he had a part in besting the best defensive mind in football in Dick LeBeau.
Even though our run D lately doesn’t give me much reason to be concerned re the Pitt run game, I feel I need to say stopping their run game is key here. They’ll want to establish the run and Mendenhall is a good back.
Mason Crosy – interestingly, Mason Crosby is the only kicker in Heinz Field history to make a field goal of over 50 yards. The winds are notoriously tricky there and Crosby nailed this one in a preseason game. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Crosby ends up hitting a key 50+ yard FG during this game and becomes the only kicker to make one from over 50 during a regular season game.
Just saw a rather hackish-seeming new punter-rating system that Sports Illustrated put together. It was really lame (Shane Lechler was like # 12 or something) and I don’t put a lot of stock in it. That said, by this rating system and really, just about any rating system, Jeremy Kapinos is toward the bottom. He did have a nice kick last week that helped the team and I hope that continues. But his punting may end up being key as Pitt wouldn’t mind at all keeping this game close by winning the field position game.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jennings and Donald Lee both benefit directly from the added attention Finley will be getting. This may also be the kind of game where our FBs get some nice catches out of the backfield.
I want a big hit by Bigby – particularly a big hit on Hines Ward. I no longer care for Hines Ward. He is super cocky and his constant smiling isn’t a cool “I’m just enjoying myself, let’s all have fun” smile. It’s a “I’ve become a jackass and am just waiting to nail you with a block when you’re not looking”. He needs to get hit hard and Bigby could use one of these.
I actually think Packer players are going to be really up for this game because I think Mike McCarthy and staff have successfully won the team back over. I really think there was probably major dissention among the ranks after the TB loss – but the staff and players did a good job of reuniting and getting things turned around. McCarthy will have his entire extended family there and I think the players may play this one some for coach McCarthy because whether he says it or not, this game means a lot to him.
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