The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their third preseason game in the 2015 NFL preseason, and their first home game at Heinz Field, this Sunday. When the Green Bay Packers travel to the Steel City for a 1:00 p.m. EST kickoff, many fans are wondering what to expect from both teams in this rematch of Super Bowl 45.
BTSC reached out to Jason B. Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Company, SB Nation's Packers blog, to ask 5 burning questions about the upcoming game, the team and what makes the Packers offense the best in the league, in their opinion. Take a step behind enemy lines as we learn a little more about the upcoming matchup this Sunday.
1. The Packers are entering their second preseason game, how much of Aaron Rodgers and company can Steelers fans expect to see Sunday?
During the Packers' first preseason game, Mike McCarthy surprised everyone by keeping Aaron Rodgers and the first-team offense on the field for the entire first quarter. That suggests the group may play even longer this week. At the same time, starting left tackle David Bakhtiari is all but officially scratched from the game, and, historically, once the blindside protector leaves the field, so does Green Bay's starting quarterback. As such, I unfortunately can't provide you with a clear answer. We'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.
2. When it comes to complete offenses, the Steelers and Packers are certainly in the discussion as the best in the league. What separates the Green Bay offense from every other offense in the league?
No. 12. While other offenses boast great quarterback play, no signal caller dominates the game as thoroughly as the reigning MVP. He beats opponents with his mind, arm and legs, a combination of strengths that few players in league history can boast. Certainly, having arguably the best collection of receivers helps his cause, as does running back Eddie Lacy and the reliable play of Green Bay's offensive line, but it all comes back to Rodgers.
3. There is a connection between the Steelers and Packers, and it is their 2014 draft picks at running back. Le'Veon Bell has turned into one of the best backs in the league, while Eddie Lacy has proven his worth as well. Are the Packers pleased with Lacy as their every down back, or are they keeping their options open in the future for another back to carry the load?
I'm probably in the minority regarding Eddie Lacy. While he's clearly a workhorse back that any team could build a running game around, I have some doubts about his long-term sustainability. Not many backs of his size (he's conservatively listed at 230 pounds) have maintained long careers, and the rare few that have (only Jerome Bettis comes to mind among relatively recent players) didn't enter the league with as many medical issues as Lacy reportedly had coming out of Alabama. The Packers probably don't have anything to worry about for the length of his rookie contract, but the picture gets rather blurry after that.
4. The Green Bay Packers have turned into a wide receiver factory, similar to the Steelers. Who is the next great receiver to keep an eye on out of Green Bay?
Second-year wideout Davante Adams appears ready for a breakout season. He has rare strength for the position, and has the athleticism to out leap opponents (39 1/2" vertical) and create separation from defenders (6.82 second 3-cone). Mike McCarthy singled out Adams for praise during the team's offseason program as well as throughout training camp. He should find a nice role this year playing opposite of Jordy Nelson with Randall Cobb working in the slot.
5. The Packers offense gets most of the print, what about their defense should the NFL, and Steelers fans, keep an eye on as they head into Heinz Field this Sunday?
Perhaps the Packers' most intriguing position battle takes place at cornerback, where as many as four players are currently competing for Tramon Williams' vacated spot opposite Sam Shields. The frontrunner entering camp was fourth-year corner Casey Hayward, but rookies Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall and LaDarius Gunter have each made compelling cases. Each should see significant playing time Sunday against the Steelers.
For more in-depth analysis from the Packers side of the upcoming matchup, be sure to visit Acme Packing Company leading up to the game.