Week 16 Key Matchup: Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy vs. Pittsburgh Steelers' Run Defense

By Jeff Hartman
Eddie Lacy
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It has been well documented that the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ defense is not the defense that it used to be — especially in terms of their run defense. The Steelers’ defense has not only fallen out of the top 10 in overall defense for the first time in nearly a decade, but they also are 19th in the NFL in run defense allowing 115 yards rushing per game. What might even be a bigger concern is not only the fact that they are giving up yards on the ground, but they are also giving up big chunks of yardage in the process.

Think to the game against the Oakland Raiders where Terrelle Pryor broke off a 93-yard touchdown for the first play of the game. Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins took a read option run play and scrambled for 48 yards against the Steelers. Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas rushed for another 40-plus yard run that same game. I think you get the feel for what I’m saying, and now the Steelers have a must-win game against one of the more dynamic young running backs in the league, Green Bay Packers rookie Eddie Lacy.

The Steelers took running back Le’Veon Bell while Lacy was still on the board on draft day this past year, and Lacy is playing with something to prove. The Packers wanted to resurrect their running game, and by all means Lacy has done just that. As a rookie he has rushed for 1,028 yards, eight touchdowns and has 236 yards receiving to boot. The former University of Alabama running back has been impressive with his bruising style of running and how well he has adapted to the NFL game. With a Packers team that averages 130 yards rushing per game, will Lacy be able to run wild over the Steelers’ rush defense?

The Steelers will certainly have their hands full with Lacy, and expect Troy Polamalu to be hovering around the line of scrimmage more to help stop the run. This could make the Steelers’ defense susceptible to being burned in the passing game by Matt Flynn, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. If the Steelers can slow down Lacy and make Flynn beat them they very well could be on their way to stealing a win at storied Lambeau Field and keeping their razor thin playoff hopes alive.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for  RantSports.com and also contributes for the   Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+.

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