It’s an unusual feeling to see the Pittsburgh Steelers nearly out of the postseason this early in the year but that’s the reality of the situation. This week, the Steelers travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers. Here’s everything you need to know for the game!
What: Pittsburgh Steelers 5-8 at Carolina Panthers 5-8
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC
When: 1pm ET Sunday December 18th, 2022
Weather: Sunny and 44 degrees at kickoff.
Wagering Information: Steelers +3 O/U 37.5
Last Week: The Panthers won 30-24 up in Seattle while the Steelers dropped a tough 16-14 loss to the Ravens in Pittsburgh.
TV: CBS Greg Gumble (play-by-play), Adam Archuleta (analysis), AJ Ross (sideline)
TV Coverage in Your Area: A decent chunk of the East and Southeast will get the game. Are you lucky enough? Check 506sports.com.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Craig Wolfley (analysis), Missi Matthews (sideline),
Max Starks (sideline)
Westwood One Radio: N/A
Head Official: Scott Novak. He’s in his fifth year as a head official. Novak last called a Steelers’ game back in October when the Steelers lost in Miami. There were 21 accepted penalties in that game, 15 of which were on the Dolphins.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: QB Kenny Pickett (Concussion) – Doubtful
LB Myles Jack (Groin) – Doubtful CAR: LB Brandon Smith (Ankle) – Out, WR DJ Moore (Ankle) – Questionable
S Xavier Woods (Knee) – Questionable, WR Laviska Shenault Jr. (Shoulder) – Questionable
Injury Notes: I expect both Panthers’ receivers to play so don’t get your hopes up there… I think the safe move, even if he clears protocol Saturday is to keep Kenny Pickett on the sidelines. He’s had little work with the offense this week and other than getting reps there’s little reason to play him… Myles Jack likely not playing is a huge blow to the defense. Relying on Robert Spillane and Devin Bush doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in me.
Injury Updates: Kenny Pickett has officially been ruled OUT while Myles Jack has been upgraded to Questionable and is expected to play.
2022 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 27th CAR 24th Passing Offense: PIT 24th CAR 30th Rushing Offense: PIT 20th CAR 13th
Total Defense: PIT 14th CAR 13th Passing Defense: PIT 24th CAR 14th Rushing Defense: PIT 15th CAR 24th
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 9-4, Cincinnati 9-4, Cleveland 5-8, Pittsburgh 5-8
This Week in the AFC North: Baltimore at Cleveland 430pm ET (SAT), Cincinnati at Tampa Bay 425pmET (SUN)
What You Need to Know: The Panthers have missed five PATs this season while the Steelers are 21 for 21… Pittsburgh is now 0-7 on the season when they trail after one quarter… The Steelers are 3-0 against the NFC South this year… A win gives Mike Tomlin his 160th career victory which would make him the 17th coach to reach that level all-time… Robert Spillane reunites with Giovanni Ricci who plays tight end for the Panthers. The two were teammates at Western Michigan University.
Carolina Panthers Names to Know: QB Sam Darnold, RB D’Onta Foreman, RB Chuba Hubbard, WR D.J. Moore, WR Laviska Shenault, Jr, CB Jaycee Horn, LB Shaq Thompson, DE Yetur Gross-Matos
What’s at Stake: The Panthers find themselves in the thick of the NFC South race with all four teams being pretty bad so this game has tremendous meaning for them. For the Steelers, they MUST out win and get help the rest of the way in order to make the postseason.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 6-1 and have won six straight. They are 2-1 all-time in Carolina.
Postseason History: N/A
Steelers Game Highs vs CAR: Passing 2018 Ben Roethlisberger 328 yards Rushing 2014 Le’Veon Bell 147 yards Receiving 2002 Plaxico Burress 120 yards Sacks 2002 Jason Gildon 2.5 Interceptions Six Different players have 1. Most recent was Vince Williams in 2018
Last Meeting: 2018 in Pittsburgh. Steelers 52 Panthers 21
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on the Steelers.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. The Obvious. After getting gashed for over 200 yards on the ground last week, the Steelers’ defense will do one of two things on Sunday. They will either demonstrate just how embarrassed they are or they’ll do exactly what they did against the Ravens. If they’re serious about winning this game, then Cam Heyward and company need to get their collective shit together. They need to get off blocks and they need to stay in their lanes. Whatever they can do to help keep offensive linemen off of Myles Jack and Devin Bush would be appreciated. If they can’t then it’s going to be another long day for the Steelers’ defense.
2. ‘Ordinary’ Teams. There has been nothing “special” about Danny Smith’s Special Teams’ units in recent weeks. From fumbled punts and blocked kicks to penalties and 17-yard punts this group has been really bad. At some point, they have to do something that helps the team score points. More yards in the return game… A blocked kick of their own… No penalties… Anything would be greatly appreciated as the offense continues to struggle and the defense continues to not be able to get pick sixes or scoops and scores. The third phase of the game needs to step up period.
3. Stay Aggressive. There is absolutely no excuse I can accept for George Pickens getting just four balls thrown in his direction. I recognize that part of that is Kenny Pickett being overly cautious and not wanting to turn the ball over on a contested, deep throw. Clearly Mitchell Trubisky (he’ll get the start) didn’t have that problem as he went to Pickens deep on his third play in the game Sunday. Whether it’s Trubisky or Mason Rudolph, both guys need to keep Pickens involved and if that means an interception or two, I can live with it if they are trying to be aggressive. This offense cannot consistently expect some runs and short throws to put points on the board.
Prediction: I get the feeling a lot of fans think the Steelers will just walk into Bank of America Stadium and waltz out with a win. Carolina is not a good team, but they aren’t bad either. They will look to run the ball and after what the Ravens did why wouldn’t they? I actually think the Steelers will have a better chance without Pickett playing because the QB won’t be restricted to such conservative play-calling. All that said, I think the Steelers are done and they’re already heading into the offseason. It’ll be competitive but in the end they can’t generate enough offense.
Panthers 23 Steelers 17
Season Record 9-4