Packers at Steelers: Gameday Preview - 2023 Week 10

Inconsistent quarterbacks that play better late. Hot and cold run games. Hated coordinators. Injured stars. The Packers and Steelers are more similar than you might think, which could make for a close, exciting game today.

The last time the Packers played the Steelers was 2021, when the Packers won at home 27-17 on the strength of a couple Randall Cobb touchdown catches.

Today, the game is in Pittsburgh, where the Packers haven't won since 1970, when Bart Starr threw touchdown passes to Rich McGeorge and John Hilton to come away with a 20-12 win.

Aaron Rodgers never won in Pittsburgh. Brett Favre never won in PIttsburgh.

Can Jordan Love?


The Packers offense did enough to win last week. While it wasn't a well-oiled machine, it looked a little better than it has as the youth movement continues to experience growing pains

On the offensive line, Yosh Nijman saw some time and Sean Rhyan looked pretty good in limited action. This week, Josh Meyers, Yosh Nijman, and Jon Runyan are all questionable with an assortment of injuries, leading to a lot of questions about how well they can block a tough Steelers front. 

As we saw last week, if the line can play cohesively, this team can run the ball and even complete some passes. They won't need to do anything spectacular (just consistent) against the tough Steelers defense, which is surprisingly susceptible to big play.

The Packers have been able to generate some big plays this year, but more often than not, we've seen them just barely miss on a lot of potential big plays. If they want to get the ball moving in the passing game, they should be running play action and getting the ball out in quick rhythm.

Anyone who's watched the Packers this year has seen that the passing game works better when plays run on rhythm off of play action. The stats back up the eye test, too. Jordan Love's completion percentage when he has less than 2.5 seconds in the pocket is 63.7%, whereas when he has more than 2.5 seconds in the pocket, it's only 54.4%. Similarly, his completion percentage is 66.7% off of play action and 57.8% without play action.

This isn't a coincidence, this is how this offense was designed to function.

The Packers might have an easier time passing today, as Pittsburgh All Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is out with a hamstring injury (apparently other teams get those, too). However, cornerback Joey Porter, Jr is having a phenomenal rookie campaign, and old veteran Patrick Peterson is solid on the other side. Former Packer Chandon Sullivan has played nickel back and may see extended time with Fitzpatrick out. He's the weak link in the cornerback group and Jayden Reed could be in for a big game as a result.

But it really starts up front and the Packers mix-n-match offensive line could have their hands full today.

Cameron Heyward is a highly disruptive defensive end and edge rusher Alex Highsmith has 4.5 sacks (which would lead the Packers). At the other edge rush position is... *checks notes*... TJ Watt. Hey, he plays for the Steelers and it says here that he went to Wisconsin! How weird... He's also 2nd in the league in sacks with 9.5 and is an All Pro every year. Packers should probably focus on blocking him, and not just with Josiah Deguara.

Anyways, the Steelers have been winning with defense all year. 

They have 5 wins and didn't allow more than 22 points in any of them. They rank 13th in the league in points allowed. However, they also rank 31st in yards allowed. Pittsburgh lets teams move up and down the field (they've allowed over 100 yards rushing in all but one of their games), but have lived on big plays and turnovers (they rank 2nd in the league with 16 turnovers).

The Packers need to establish the run against this front and work the quick passing game. They aren't as successful with the long-developing plays and they won't be able to keep this front at bay for long with a banged up offensive line. Holding on to the football and making their field goals will also be important today.



You know how much Packers fans hate defensive coordinator Joe Barry?

That's how much Steelers fans hate their offensive coordinator, Matt Canada.

The Steelers haven't had much go right on offense this year. They've failed to score more than 26 points in any contest this year and rank 29th in both scoring and yardage. Plus, they haven't outgained their opponent in yardage once this year. 

Quarterback Kenny Pickett hasn't lived up to Steelers fans dreams, but he has shown flashes... mostly in the 4th quarter. Similar to Jordan Love, Kenny Pickett seems to take things up a notch in the 4th quarter. In the 1st quarter of games this year, Pickett has thrown for 266 yards with a QB Rating of 49.7. In the 4th quarter, he's thrown for 421 yards with a rating of 102.8. He's led the team to three 4th quarter come from behind wins in the team's five victories. If the Packers can manage a lead, they'll need their 4th quarter defense to really step up.

That could be difficult with Jaire Alexander and Quay Walker both doubtful for today's game.

The Steelers offense favors the sidelines in the passing game, not risking many throws over the middle. Coupled with the fact that the Steelers four tight ends have only combined for 175 yards on the year, the Packers inside linebackers can focus on their run assignments first. It also opens up the opportunity for more inside blitzes. While Quay Walker is best suited for this, De'Vondre Campbell is physical up the middle and Isaiah McDuffie has shows the ability to crash inside as well. With Kenny Pickett looking to pass to the outside, and the tight ends not much of a threat down the middle, Green Bay could really wreak havoc with blitzes up the middle.

The Steelers run game hasn't done much this year. Starting running back Najee Harris has taken the bulk of the carries, but has barely managed 3.8 yards per carry. Backup Jaylen Warren has only received half as many carries, but is gaining nearly a full yard more per carry with a 4.7 yard average. Curiously, his carries have gone down recently. Maybe this is the week Warren sees more action, and the Packers should be ready for it.

Stopping the run is always important, but it's especially critical against a limited quarterback like Kenny Pickett.

If the Packers can keep tight coverage on the perimeter and play tough run defense down the middle, while bringing inside pressure, they could continue their unlikely march of a top 10 scoring defense.

And maybe propel this team to victory.




The Packers and Steelers are a couple of teams with inconsistent quarterbacks that have managed to stick around .500 due to their defenses and some nice late game finishes on offense. 

Anything could happen with these two teams, but lately, despite signs of improvement, the Packers have come up short more often than not.

Injuries are impacting both teams, but I think the Steelers are better positioned to weather theirs this week.

With a lot of question marks on the offensive line, I'm not confident that the Packers can handle the Steelers pass rush.

I think the Packers might lose another close one today.

Packers 13, Steelers 16





Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.


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0 points

Comments (9)

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Since'61's picture

November 12, 2023 at 07:30 am

Win both sides the LOS. That is the first key for any NFL game. Next limit penalties and turnovers. In particular the Packers need to stop beating themselves with penalties. The receivers need to catch the ball. Drops and penalties have been factors in ending drives for the Packers offense.

Get the ball to Aaron Jones and stack up on the success from the Rams game with Jones as the workhorse for the Offense.

Stay aggressive on defense and make good, solid tackles. The Steelers offense is far from being a juggernaut this season. Keep the game close and anything can happen. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

1 points
NickPerry's picture

November 12, 2023 at 07:30 am

"The Packers have been able to generate some big plays this year, but more often than not, we've seen them just barely miss on a lot of potential big plays."

Hmmm... I guess I'll have to watch the game much, much, closer, because I haven't seen them BARELY miss on a big play. It's normally by a pretty wide margin and it's on just about every attempt. It was an issue coming out and it's clearly not getting better. Obviously surrounding him with two 2nd year WRs and a bunch of rookies hasn't helped either.

2 points
Savage57's picture

November 12, 2023 at 07:31 am

The fanboy in me makes it impossible to pick against the Packers.

The pragmatist in me looks at the patchwork O-line and the bargain bin secondary, and says, "Uh-oh."

2 points
barutanseijin's picture

November 12, 2023 at 09:46 am

Bargain bin secondary vs bargain bin offense. It could go either way.

0 points
mrtundra's picture

November 12, 2023 at 07:45 am

This team is overdue for a complete game from all three aspects, Offense, Defense and STs. Today, that changes. The second game in our RUN THE TABLE scheme comes to fruition and we beat the Steelers 24-17. GO PACK, GO!!!

3 points
fireball's picture

November 12, 2023 at 07:53 am

We'll see how the Packers offense does against the Steelers defense.

Main thing, I think, is how well Love starts seeing and feeling the field ( the game ) as it goes on. Is he starting to take command? Is he starting to believe in himself? Point being: once Love starts believing that he's the " man," the rest of the offense will start believing the same thing and act accordingly. . . by behaving more and more powerfully as a single unit in an effort to support Love and less and less as a disorganized collection of individual players thinking only of themselves.

Love is key- no way around that. But he has to accept it, to believe in it because, once he does, he gets better in every phase of his game. And his belief in himself begins, as I say, to spread to others in the organization.

So, next game up. What will we see?

2 points
Packers0808's picture

November 12, 2023 at 08:56 am

After that nice 31 yard gain by Wilson I wonder if we see a bit more of him today and bit less of Dillon. I firmly believe Dillon's days as a Packer are very limited to this year. He will become trade bait or cut I would bet.

0 points
LeotisHarris's picture

November 12, 2023 at 09:11 am

Mid-November. Western Wisconsin. 52 degrees at kickoff. The Maple trees are still sending every leaf on a blitz in the backyard. Realistic brand radio purchased at Radio Shack in 1969 ready to roll. It's all good.

Improved play in all phases of the game. GPG!

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Coldworld's picture

November 12, 2023 at 09:38 am

This Steelers D is good. Their O isn’t. That’s despite some talent at receiver. Pickett is completing at s pout the same rate as Love despite more at the skill positions.

Their run game managed 166 yards in their last outing versus the Titans. Their OL isn’t bad. They’ve faced a lot of teams who challenge them to pass and stack the boxes. For the most part that’s been pretty successful. If Clarke is not fully fit, the decision not to elevate a DL could bite us hard.

0 points