As the Green Bay Packers gear up to face the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday, the matchup presents a significant challenge for the young Packers’ offense against a formidable Steelers’ defense. Simultaneously, it’s an opportunity for the improving Packers’ defense to shine against a struggling Matt Canada-led offense, with a chance to secure a second consecutive victory.
In this evaluation season for the Packers, the game holds particular relevance for five key players who are poised to define the success or challenges of Week 10 for Green Bay.
- Jordan Love
In his inaugural year as a full-time starter, every week is a watchful one for Jordan Love, and this game is no exception. Facing one of the league’s top defenses, Love’s performance against a physical and intelligent Steelers’ defense will be a crucial test. Over the first eight games, Love has experienced both ups and downs, with inconsistency and inaccuracy as areas of concern. Limiting mistakes will be pivotal, considering the Steelers’ defensive prowess.
- Aaron Jones
Last week saw the Packers fully utilize Aaron Jones without limitations, with 24 touches against the Los Angeles Rams. The impact was evident, as Jones’ involvement significantly enhanced the efficiency of the offense. Even AJ Dillon’s performance improved when Jones was part of the plan. If the Packers can once again “cut him loose,” as stated by Matt LaFleur, it could be a substantial step toward placing the offense in more favorable positions.
- Zach Tom
Zach Tom, the right tackle and a standout among Packers offensive linemen, faces a substantial challenge against TJ Watt. With an impressive 79.6 PFF grade, Tom has been a linchpin for the team. However, the encounter with Watt poses a test, considering the Packers’ earlier struggles against top-tier edge rushers. Tom’s ability to handle Watt’s pressure will play a crucial role in the offensive line’s performance.
- Isaiah McDuffie
With the Steelers showcasing a more robust running game (16th in rush EPA), stopping the run becomes a critical factor for the Packers’ defense. In the absence of Quay Walker, Isaiah McDuffie, who delivered an impressive performance against the Rams, will play a pivotal role. As a 2021 sixth-rounder under contract through 2024, McDuffie has an opportunity to solidify his future role with a series of strong performances.
- Carrington Valentine
The Packers’ cornerback lineup faces challenges with Jaire Alexander doubtful, Eric Stokes out with a hamstring injury, and Rasul Douglas traded to the Buffalo Bills. This leaves seventh-round rookie Carrington Valentine as the top cornerback on the depth chart. Despite a tough task ahead, Valentine performed well against challenging receivers last week. The Steelers present a more formidable challenge, but Valentine’s ability to handle dynamic weapons like Diontae Johnson and George Pickens will be crucial for the Packers’ defensive efforts.