The Pittsburgh Steelers are holding down the pole position for the top seed in the AFC and will take a five-game winning streak in Sunday’s prime-time clash against the visiting Green Bay Packers. While Pittsburgh owns a three-game cushion atop the AFC North, sputtering Green Bay trails three teams by one game for the NFC’s final playoff slot.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming off his best game of the season in a 40-17 rout of Tennessee on Nov. 16, helping to quiet talk that he doesn’t care about the game as much. “I’m going to go out here and bust my butt every day and be limping with bruises and put my body and my family through this and not care?” Roethlisberger asked on his weekly radio show. “You’re absolutely nuts.” While Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh have turned things around since a humbling home loss to Jacksonville in Week 5, Green Bay has dropped four of five since Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone and was shut out at home for the first time since 2006 in last week’s 23-0 drubbing by Baltimore. “We’re not in panic mode, everything is still in front of us,” Packers receiver Davante Adams said after the loss. “We’ve got to get a grip of it real quick here. Otherwise, we will be in panic mode.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Steelers -14. O/U: 42
ABOUT THE PACKERS (5-5): Green Bay rolled up 93 points during a three-game winning streak prior to the injury to Rodgers, but it is averaging 13.4 in the five games since Brett Hundley replaced the two-time MVP. Hundley was intercepted three times by the Ravens and has two scoring passes against seven interceptions while averaging only 156.7 yards passing per game. Adams is Hundley’s favorite target with 20 receptions over the past three games, but the running game has been weakened by injuries to Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones, who both did not practice Wednesday. Green Bay’s defense limited Baltimore to 219 yards of total offense.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (8-2): Since he was picked off five times in the 30-9 loss to Jacksonville, Roethlisberger has guided Pittsburgh to five straight wins by throwing for 1,328 yards with 10 TDs and a 102.7 passer rating. Wideout Antonio Brown leads the league in catches (70) and receiving yards (1,026) after hauling in 10 receptions and three scoring passes in the romp over Tennessee. Pittsburgh also features the NFL’s leading rusher in Le’Veon Bell, who has racked up 886 yards despite being limited to 46 versus the Titans. Pittsburgh is second in the league at 16.5 points allowed and has not permitted more than 17 points during the five-game run.
1. Roethlisberger has won his last six prime-time games at home, throwing for 20 touchdowns and two interceptions.
2. Adams has at least one touchdown reception in his last five road games.
3. Bell has at least 90 yards from scrimmage in 10 straight home games.
PREDICTION: Steelers 27, Packers 13