Packers vs. Steelers preview: 8 things to know about Week 4 showdown

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The Green Bay Packers (2-1) will welcome the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) to Lambeau Field for an important Week 4 showdown between two of the NFL’s most successful franchises.

The Packers and Steelers have played only twice since Super Bowl XLV, both ending in late Steelers wins. Sunday will mark the first time Aaron Rodgers has played the Steelers since winning the Super Bowl and the first time he’s started a game at Lambeau Field against the Steelers.

Here’s everything to know about the matchup:

Game information

When: Sunday, Oct. 3 at 3:25 p.m. CT
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Referee: Scott Novak
TV: CBS
In-market live stream: fuboTV (try it for free).
Broadcast coverage, via 506sports.com:

Last meeting: Steelers 31, Packers 28 (Nov. 26, 2017)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers were in free fall without Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) and went into the game against the 9-2 Steelers as a big underdog. Mike McCarthy’s team put up a fight, using three touchdown passes from Brett Hundley to stay in the game until the final whistle. Le’Veon Bell gained 183 total yards, and Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Brown’s late catch set up the Steelers’ game-winning field goal as time expired. Jamaal Williams, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams all caught touchdown passes for the Packers.

Last week

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Packers: Won 30-28 at 49ers
Steelers: Lost 24-10 vs. Bengals

Matt LaFleur’s team improved to 2-1 with a second consecutive primetime win. The Packers raced out to a 17-0 lead over the San Francisco 49ers and then got a game-winning drive from Aaron Rodgers to complete the 30-28 win. Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal as time expired won the game. This was a big win.

Pittsburgh dropped to 1-2 with a second straight loss. Mike Tomlin’s team fell behind early and never really recovered in a 24-10 loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals. Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions, and the offense averaged only 4.4 yards per play. The Steelers didn’t sack Joe Burrow once, snapping the team’s 75-game streak with at least one sack.

Steelers QB: Ben Roethlisberger

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Roethlisberger, now 39, is a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champ, but the end of the line appears to be approaching for the veteran quarterback. He’s averaging 6.2 yards per attempt and ranks 30th in the NFL with a passer rating of 79.0 through three games. He has as many touchdown passes (three) as interceptions. Roethlisberger doesn’t move as well as he once did but he’s still hard to sack in the pocket. The Packers can’t underestimate his ability to extend plays and distribute the ball as an experienced passer, but his effectiveness is really starting to wane.

Steelers players to watch

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

OLB T.J. Watt: The Wisconsin native is one of the NFL’s top two or three defensive players. He’s battling through a groin injury currently.

RB Najee Harris: The rookie running back is averaging only 3.1 yards per rush, but he leads the team in both rushing yards (123) and catches (20).

DL Cameron Hayward: The Packers’ young interior offensive line will have their hands full with No. 97. The veteran interior defender is dominant against the run and pass.

S Minkah Fitzpatrick: One of the most instinctive and versatile safeties in football. He intercepted nine passes in 2019 and 2020 with the Steelers.

WR Chase Claypool: Probably the Steelers’ best big-play weapon. He has tight end size (6-4, 238) but runs well. Caught nine touchdown passes as a rookie.

Team ranks

(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

Team ranks, via Pro Football Reference:

GB

PIT

Points per game

22.7 (17th)

16.7 (28th)

Points allowed per game

27.7 (24th)

22.0 (12th)

Takeaway differential

+1 (10th)

-1 (20th)

Passing yards per game

222 (22nd)

255 (13th)

Rushing yards per game

79 (30th)

53 (32nd)

Passing yards allowed per game

206 (9th)

266 (20th)

Rushing yards allowed per game

115 (16th)

88 (10th)

DVOA rank

20th

25th

PFF overall grade rank

14th

27th

Injuries to know

The Packers are already without left tackle David Bakhtiari (PUP) and edge rusher Za’Darius Smith (IR), and backup left tackle Elgton Jenkins (ankle), receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) and cornerback Kevin King (concussion) look unlikely to play Sunday.

The Steelers appear to be getting healthy. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, edge rusher T.J. Watt and receiver Diontae Johnson all practiced fully on Thursday. Getting Watt back would be a huge boost for Pittsburgh’s defense. Receivers Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster were limited.

Storyline to watch: Can rookies handle Hayward?

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The Packers’ interior offensive line – featuring rookies Josh Myers and Royce Newman and second-year player Jon Runyan – will be tested by one of the best interior defenders in football. Cameron Hayward has 15 pressures and seven run stops in three games, and he’s the highest-rated defensive lineman in the NFL so far in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. The Steelers could make life difficult for the Packers offense if Hayward is consistently reseting the line of scrimmage on the inside. The young interior blockers must play well for the Packers on Sunday.

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