The Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) are now in control of their own destiny. If the Packers win their last two games of the season, they will win the NFC North. Step one of that plan starts this Sunday when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8). The game is scheduled to kickoff at 3:25 CT from Lambeau Field with television coverage on CBS. While the Packers are in control of their playoff destiny, the Steelers are on the opposite side of the spectrum. The Steelers need to win out, hope the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins lose out, have the New York Jets win out, and hope the San Diego Chargers lose one of their two final games. So, the chances of the Steelers making the playoffs are very slim.
For the seventh straight week, the Packers will go into battle without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback because he has not received medical clearance on his broken collarbone. With no Rodgers, Matt Flynn will make his fourth consecutive start. Flynn will try to guide the Packers to their third straight win after two very close victories. Last week, the Packers almost saw their playoff chances go right down the drain after they were down by 23 at halftime to the Dallas Cowboys. But, the Packers scored on all five of their second half possessions and benefitted from two Tony Romo interceptions to cap an unbelievable comeback.
The Steelers are coming off of a dominating 30-20 win last Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. This will be the first time the Packers and Steelers have met since their Super Bowl XLV matchup. The Packers won that game 31-25, but the two teams have a very different look to them. Aside from Rodgers, big time players like Greg Jennings, Nick Collins, and Charles Woodson are no longer with the team. The Steelers enter this game without former stars Hines Ward, who retired, and Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, and James Harrison, who both left for other teams.
The last time that these two met in the regular season was in 2009. In that game, the Steelers were trailing by six and down to their last play at the Packers 19 yard line. Ben Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace in the corner of the end zone as time expired to give the Steelers the one point victory.
While the Steelers could be eliminated from the playoffs by the time the game kicks off, that doesn’t mean that they will lay down easy. Head coach Mike Tomlin will make sure his team is ready to play. For the Packers to succeed, they need to run the ball effectively. In the last game against the Cowboys, Eddie Lacy rushed for over 100 yards. Lacy needs to run effectively and efficiently to take some pressure off of Matt Flynn.
The Packers need to win on Sunday to keep their playoff chances alive. A loss and a Bears win would eliminate them from playoff contention, since they would then be 1.5 games back with a game to play. The ball is in the Packers court. This Sunday is a win or go home. Who knows? Maybe a certain quarterback could return if next week decides the NFC North. Only time will tell.