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Cheese Curds, 11/10: Packers could easily be in Steelers’ shoes

Pittsburgh is 5-3, but on the backs of five one-score wins. If a few things went differently, the Packers could be right there too.

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The similarities between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers — especially on offense — keep getting stronger the more you dive into the two teams’ results and numbers this season. Both offenses have been struggling in the first half of games, as we discussed in Thursday’s Cheese Curds, and there are plenty of other comparable factors for the two teams.

But the differences between these teams are as intriguing as the similarities. Pittsburgh’s defense, though it is second in the NFL in turnovers, is a dismal 31st in yards allowed per game. In fact, they rank in the bottom third of the NFL in both rushing yards per attempt and yards per pass attempt, which has boosted their ranking to 13th in points allowed. The Packers, on the other hand, are 10th in points allowed and 11th in yards, though they rank 24th in turnovers.

Most importantly, however, are the final results of these teams’ games. The Packers are 1-3 in one-score games, with losses by one point to the Falcons, four points to the Raiders, and two points to the Broncos. Failing to beat bad (or, at best, mediocre) teams is a sore spot for the Green and Gold. The Steelers, on the other hand, are an absurd 5-0 in one-score games, with three wins by five or fewer points.

That rate, as NFL fans know, is generally unsustainable. The Vikings, who went 11-0 in those games a season ago, are 4-4 this season. But for a bounce or two of the football, the Packers could be sitting at 5-3 as well instead of at 3-5.

Will those bounces go their way in Pittsburgh on Sunday? We’ll just have to watch and find out.

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Last week was the Packers' most efficient and balanced game of the year for the offense, and the 184 rushing yards the team put up was a season high. It surely would have been better if not for the two turnovers early in the third quarter.

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Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's running game also started to click last week, as they put up 166 yards on the ground. Expect to see both teams commit heavily to the run with healthy running back duos in their backfields.

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The weirdest thing about this year's Steelers team is that it has been outgained in terms of yardage in every game this season. Somehow, Pittsburgh has allowed at least 330 yards in every game this season and gives up the second-most yards per game, but they have managed to squeak out all five wins by seven points or less.

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Rhyan being the first man off the bench on the interior -- instead of Royce Newman -- was a new development, but he played well in his limited action last Sunday. Does he deserve to get some more snaps in a planned manner?

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Packers fans who were around in the 1980s will probably remember Walter Stanley's game against the Lions in 1986, which saw him score three touchdown, including a game-winning 83-yard punt return.

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