Generally speaking, the preseason is all about getting reps in and staying healthy. Depending on the team, starters will sometimes get more reps in the second game and usually get at least a half in the third preseason game. For the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, both teams are coming into this season with high expectations but both need to stay healthy.
For the Steelers, they finished last season at 13-3, which was good for a 2nd seed in the AFC. After getting knocked out by Jacksonville, the Steelers are looking for redemption and a deeper playoff run this season. For the Packers, it is all about keeping their QB upright. After Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last season, it basically doomed their season. They managed a 7-9 record, and still almost made it into the playoffs, but they will look to go back to the playoffs this year with a healthy Rodgers.
The two will meet up on Thursday night when the Steelers (1-0 in the preseason) travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers (1-0 in the preseason). Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET. In the matchup, the Steelers are underdogs and come in at +5.5 while the Packers are -5.5 favorites in the spread. The over/under for total points scored is 42.5.
Steelers Look To Capitalize With Big Three
Between Ben Rothlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers are able to put out one of the most dynamic offenses in the entire league out on the field. Last season, Rothlisberger threw for 4,251 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He had a 93.4 quarterback rating. Antonio Brown had 1,533 yards on 101 receptions and 9 touchdowns. Last but not least, Le’Veon Bell had 1,291 yards on 321 carries with 9 touchdowns. The problem for the Steelers right now is that Le’Veon is nowhere to be seen. He has been holding out of training camp hoping for a significant raise in his contract. He did something similar last year and still started week one on a limited snap count. It is expected that he will be on the field, but the angst between he and the Steelers might lead to this being the final season for him in Pittsburgh.
While Ben Rothlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell will lead the team in week one, they won’t be on the field for preseason week two. Like I mentioned earlier, some teams like to get reps for their starters in week two and some prefer to just keep them healthy. Coach Mike Tomlin has already said that many of the veterans will not play, especially Rothlisberger. Instead, the focus will be on getting reps for Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph as only one will likely make the team.
For Packers, Success Revolves Around Rodgers
Generally, when it comes to team sports you like to say that the success of a team doesn’t revolve around just one person. For the Packers, it certainly does. With Rodgers playing in less than half of the games last season, the Packers just couldn’t gain any momentum throughout the season. That led to a lot of turnover this offseason and one of the most notable subtractions from the team was receiver Jordy Nelson. One of Rodgers’ favorite targets over the years, Nelson was let go and has since been signed by the Oakland Raiders. The Packers did go out and get one big target for Rodgers, though, as they signed tight end Jimmy Graham to a 3 year, $30 million contract.
While Rodgers did not suit up last week, it is expected that he will get a couple drives in this one. After Rodgers, expect Brett Hundley, Tim Boyle and DeShone Kizer to get reps at quarterback. Last week, Kizer led all passing with 134 yards on 9 of 18 passing. Boyle had 130 yards passing on 7 of 15 with 2 touchdowns while Hundley added 108 on 9 of 14 passing with a touchdown and an interception.
Pittsburgh Covers The Spread
It is always tough to bet preseason games because you just are never sure who is actually going to be playing and how many reps they are going to get. With that in mind, the Steelers are just a bit deeper all the way around than the Packers, meaning even when it gets into that third and fourth quarter they should have some talent on the field. I know they are traveling to Lambeau and I know that Aaron Rodgers might suit up in this one, but when spotted 5.5 points in a preseason game, I will take that most nights, even without the big three of Rothlisberger, Brown and Bell.