Primetime Packers Primer: NBC26 previews Packers at Steelers

GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Packers look for redemption a week after a brutal shutout loss to the Ravens, but it’ll be a tall order in Pittsburgh against the 8-2 Steelers, winners of five straight. Here’s what you need to know before Sunday Night Football kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on NBC26.

The following Packers players will not play Sunday night:

RB Aaron Jones
CB Donatello Brown
LB Clay Matthews
G Lucas Patrick
G/T Adam Pankey
RB Ty Montgomery
DT Kenny Clark

How to watch
NBC will broadcast the game nationally, and locally on NBC26 at 7:30 CDT. Play-by-play man Al Michaels joins analyst Cris Collinsworth in the booth with Michele Tafoya reporting from the sidelines. NBC26 Sports’ Charlie Sokaitis and Chris Barriere will report from Pittsburgh, while Kelly Price will be in the Green Bay studio during a one-hour pregame show from 5-6 p.m., and postgame from 10:35-11:05 p.m.
Don’t miss: Chris Barriere’s exclusive interview with Blake Martinez during the NBC26 pregame show.

Storylines to watch

  • A good place to start: The Packers have to come out aggressively on their first drive and score, unlike against the Ravens, when a promising opening drive ended in an endzone interception thrown by Brett Hundley. The Steelers have held opponents to no touchdown on first offensive possessions in 27 consecutive regular-season contests, the longest active streak in the NFL.
  • Big Ben being Big Ben: Last week against the Titans, Ben Roethlisberger completed 30-of-45 passes for 299 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, compiling a passer rating of 115.0. The Packers’ 18th-ranked pass defense has a tall order covering Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL in receptions going into Week 12 (70 catches for 1,026 yards and six scores), but with rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster now out with a hamstring injury, at least Green Bay can devote double teams or more attention to Brown. Simply put, the Packers secondary has to find a way to contain a top 10 passing offense and its quarterback — and this defense has struggled against top passers all season — if they want a chance in this game. 
    • Fun fact: Davante Adams and Antonio Brown are the only players to have more than 50 catches and six or more scores last season and this season.
  • Defense doing it all: Four Steelers have at least four sacks each this season, and DE Cameron Heyward leads the pack with seven. The entire defense has sacked opposing QB’s 34 times (second-best in the league) and notched 12 interceptions through 10 games, which is tied for fourth-most in the NFL. Overall, the Pittsburgh defense ranks fourth in total defense, allowing an average of 287.6 yards per game. The matchup of the Packers’ 23rd-ranked offense — which couldn’t find the end zone once or even the red zone after its first drive against Baltimore — against this talented defense tilts heavily in the Steelers’ favor.
  • Ring the Bell: The Packers defense was overshadowed by the Ravens in their last game, but they allowed a season-low 219 total yards of offense against Baltimore. The 11th-ranked Packers run defense has been good as of late, allowing an average of 105.7 rushing yards per game through 10 contests. And since Week 9, the Packers rank third in the NFL with only 59 rushing yards allowed per game. And that peak might be coming at an appropriate time as Green Bay meets RB Le’Veon Bell, who leads the league in rushing yards (886) and has rushed for at least 100 yards in three games. 
  • Turnover time: The Packers have a takeaway in nine of their 10 games this season, and after winning the turnover battle in five of its last seven, they must continue the +4 trend. The Packers defense is third in the NFL in recovering opponents’ fumbles this season (nine), but they’re actually tied with Pittsburgh for total takeaways this season (16), tenth-best in the league. Turnovers may become a big factor in this game, especially for a Packers defense that knows it must create big plays to help its ineffective offense.

Series snippets

  • Last meeting: Dec. 22, 2013, Steelers won 38-31 at Lambeau
  • Packers lead the series, 19-15
  • The series is tied 7-7 when played in Pittsburgh
  • The Steelers have one the last four contests against Green Bay
  • Last postseason meeting: Feb. 6, 2011, Packers won 31-25 in Dallas, Texas, in Super Bowl XLV

Crunching numbers

  • 2-0: Steelers’ record in primetime games this season (20-15 Sunday Night Football defeat of Detroit in Week 8 and 40-17 Thursday Night Football rout of the Titans in Week 11)
  • 17: Double-digit reception games for Steelers WR Antonio Brown, a team record
  • 1-1: Packers’ record against the AFC this season 
  • 8: Sacks by the Green Bay defense over the last two weeks, tied for second in the league over that span
  • 4: Games of seven-plus receptions this season by Davante Adams — a career high and sixth in the NFL
  • 3rd: Former Badger T.J. Watt became the third player in NFL history to notch 2.0 sacks and an interception in a debut (Week 1 at Cleveland)
  • 7:  Tackles by another former Badger, Vince Biegel, in limited snaps through the last three games

What they’re saying in Steel City

What they’re saying in Green Bay

Injury report: Packers
Expected to play: LB Ahmad Brooks (back, DT Quinton Dial (chest), G Justin McCray (knee) and LB Nick Perry (foot)
Questionable: S Morgan Burnett (groin), CB Kevin King (shoulder), C Corey Linsley (back), LB Clay Matthews (groin), RB Devante Mays (ankle) and G Lucas Patrick (hand)
Doubtful: DT Kenny Clark (ankle) and RB Ty Montgomery (ribs)
Out: RB Aaron Jones (knee)

Injury report: Steelers
Expected to play: LB James Harrison (back)
Questionable: S Mike Mitchell (ankle)
Out: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring), TE Vance McDonald (ankle) and CB Joe Haden (fibula)

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