Game Scout: Steelers at Packers

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) at Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisc. - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
*Keys to the game: With or without Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), the Packers are concerned about the stability of a defense likely to be spread out and attacked by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. He's scalding defensive backs and using every weapon at his disposal. If snow flies, the game could set up as a showdown between rookie RBs Eddie Lacy (Packers) and Le'Veon Bell (Steelers). Lacy leads all rookies with 1,028 rushing yards. Packers QB Matt Flynn is riding high after directing five straight touchdown drives in the second half last week. He got going with rhythm-friendly quick throws in the short to intermediate areas and getting TE Andrew Quarless involved for the second straight game. The same approach can combat the zone blitzes and loaded box the Steelers use. Roethlisberger is tough to bring down in the pocket, the pressure calls should be prevalent in Dom Capers' game plan.
*Matchup to watch - Lacy vs. Steelers S Troy Polamalu: Polamalu still is flying in from the back end and delivering big hits as a rover-type linebacker in recent weeks. The last time Pittsburgh came to Green Bay, Polamalu was a difference maker with a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the Steelers' 20-10 victory in 2005.
*Player spotlight - Packers WR Randall Cobb: He returned to practice for the first time since fracturing the tibia in his right leg in the Oct. 13 win at Baltimore. Cobb is the top playmaker on the roster when healthy.
*Fast facts: The Packers have won all eight regular-season home finales in coach Mike McCarthy's tenure. ... A loss in the final two weeks clinches the Steelers' first losing season since 2003.
Unless one defense rises up to make the game-changing plays that each has been missing, it comes down to sustaining drives and executing in the second half. The Packers get a slight edge at home with the motivation of the postseason.
*Our pick: Packers 24-20

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