Steelers vs Packers Game Preview
A rematch of the 2011 Super Bowl pits two of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks in a marquee preseason game that promises plenty of fireworks.
The Packers are welcoming back two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers who should be antsy to be playing football again on top of playing for a new offensive coordinator. On the other end is Ben Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion and one also looking to prove he’s still got it.
An early playoff exit against the Jaguars put a damper on what was the best Steelers’ season in over a dozen years. Despite talks of retirement, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led the offence to a top-three ranking.
With the core staying put and key players returning from injury, the Steelers will look for an encore albeit with a much better ending in the playoffs perhaps even their first Super Bowl appearance in eight years.
Green Bay Packers
With Rodgers’ return, Green Bay is ready to reclaim the division. The Packers have been the “Kings of the North” for five of the last seven seasons but an inconsistent defence and offensive line has kept them from thoroughly dominating or making it back to the Super Bowl.
Armed with reinforcements on defence and new play-callers on both ends of the ball, the Packers could be in for their best season since 2014.
The Packers made big upgrades all-around and the return of Rodgers is sure to reenergize everyone. Brett Hundley is a promising backup and they fixed the passing defence. The Steelers didn’t upgrade as much but still boast one of the NFL’s most prolific rosters. This should be the rare early preseason game that will have a regular season atmosphere.
Steelers vs Packers Head-to-Head Records
As two of the oldest NFL franchises, the Steelers and Packers have met 35 times. Green Bay holds a three-game edge with a 19-16 record including defeating the Steelers during Super Bowl XLV in 2011 in a game that saw plenty of lead changes and featured one of the best quarterback performances from Rodgers.
That Super Bowl victory, however, is the only win the Packers have over the Steelers in their last six meetings. From 1998 to 2017, the Steelers are 5-0 against Green Bay in regular season meetings although all but one of these victories came within a touchdown.
These two last met late last season, which the Steelers barely won despite Green Bay being without Rodgers. Backup Brett Hundley put up an admirable performance posting a 134.3 passer rating, much better than the future Hall of Famer across him.
When these two meet again this preseason, Hundley will have the chance to avenge his loss while the Steelers get a chance to invade Lambeau and snatch another victory. It’s the best they can do until they can meet again in the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers Recent History
Outside of the Patriots, no other franchise has had more consistent success than the Steelers since 2001. Since this period, the Steelers have only had one losing season and never missed the postseason for more than two consecutive seasons. They also won a pair of Super Bowls in three appearances.
Longtime coach Bill Cowher capped off an impressive run with the organization with a Super Bowl victory in 2006. His replacement, Mike Tomlin took just two seasons to replicate the feat and has been with the organization for over a decade.
The Steelers have found long-term success thanks to stable ownership that has built from the top down. Led by a coaching staff that learns to adapt to the rapidly changing NFL landscape, the Steelers will be a fixture among the AFC powers for the foreseeable future.
Green Bay Packers Recent History
The Packers have been fortunate to have two all-time greats as a pivot for the last 26 years. Yet they have only two Super Bowls to show for it. Rodgers has a case as the NFL’s greatest quarterback of his generation but has constantly been set back by injuries and playoff disappointments.
2017 marked the first time in a decade since the Packers missed the postseason and it’s thanks to Rodgers’ injury. It was also the first time since his rookie season where Green Bay didn’t post a winning record. It’s a given that if Rodgers plays to his full capacity, the Packers will be a playoff team.
But not only is Rodgers returning, but Green Bay has added plenty of upgrades on offence and defence. And most importantly, they switched coaches on both sides too. At worst, Green Bay is a playoff team. At best, they could finally return to the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers Outlook
Roethlisberger scared everyone when he talked about retirement but quickly killed that jazz by posting his most prolific season since 2014. He has been inconsistent as of late but has shown the potency to dominate a game on occasion. With Antonio Brown (WR) and Le’Veon Bell (RB), two All-Pro talents riding shotgun, he’ll continue to play like a Pro Bowler provided he stays healthy.
The Steelers may have drafted their quarterback-of-the-future with Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, a prospect they took by trading up showing how much they value him. Their usually-stalwart defence remains solid though it’s not as dominant as before. But with a few more additions especially to their linebackers, they should be elite again.
This franchise is built to win now and a rebuild isn’t anywhere near. Even if Roethlisberger regresses, the Steelers have so many weapons on both sides of the ball that they will remain relevant.
Green Bay Packers Outlook
The Super Bowl window isn’t closing yet but neither is Rodgers getting younger. As great as he is, the pressure to win another chip is mounting and with big-name signings like Jimmy Graham (TE) and Tramon Williams (CB), there will be even fewer excuses if they fall short again.
It’s tough to find a glaring weakness for the Packers. Their offensive line still isn’t elite and a few injuries could make it all apart. Despite adding Graham, the receivers are still not up to Rodgers’ level, and the running game is nothing to write home about.
Provided they keep Rodgers healthy, the Packers will remain Super Bowl contenders. But it’s up to the rest of the team whether it’s a receiver who steps up or the defence who makes game-changing plays to push this team over the hump. One man can only do so much.
At best, this game will be a shootout. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh have potent passing offences led by Rodgers and Roethlisberger and passing defences that can be exploited. Their backups, Hundley and Landry Jones are also capable enough to light up defensive squads especially the reserves.
There is also the issue of experience. The Packers took many prospects on defence especially for the secondary. This is an area the Steelers will exploit regardless of which quarterback is playing. Pittsburgh is better on paper in almost every front.
If there’s an area that the Steelers lack, it’s their run defence. They drafted Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen, two safeties who will be converted as linebackers due to their desperate need at this position. Fortunately for this game, the Packers don’t have the personnel to exploit this weakness.
Pittsburgh should continue their dominance over Green Bay and win this game. Their depth at defence and offence will be too much for the Packers. Unless Rodgers can light up Pittsburgh, if he plays, this is the Steelers’ game to lose