The surprisingly good Buffalo Bills come to town with a 9-4 record on Sunday Night to face the also surprisingly good Pittsburgh Steelers, who currently sit in the 6th seed with an 8-5 record. In order for the Steelers to stay in prime position, they need to win this game, which would enable them to pass the Bills in the seedings and avoid the Chiefs in round one, if things played out as they currently stand now.
The Bills are still in a position to catch and pass the Patriots for the division title and have a lot to play for. They have a solid defense and an offense that does just enough to win ball games.
The Steelers will need to keep Josh Allen in the pocket. He’s a versatile quarterback, capable of making plays with his legs and the Steelers seem to have trouble with guys once they get in the open field. Allen doesn’t make a lot of huge plays in the air, but he is also pretty careful with the football, meaning the Steelers are going to have to blitz him early and often, trying to force him to make bad throws. The defense will need to force Allen to beat them rather than allowing Devin Singletary to rush all over them. Singletary is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and can make game-changing plays.
If the black and gold can contain Singletary and put the game on Allen, I think they’ll have a good chance at winning.
Offensively, it’s on Duck Hodges to keep playing like he has. He’ll need to make the throws downfield, distribute the ball between Diontae Johnson and James Washington and make the smart throws, protecting the football. Hodges has been confident in the pocket, seems to read the field well and moves the ball.
I look for the ground game to assist him. With James Conner back, I’m looking for him to show up and carry the ball to the tune of 20 times for 80 yards and help control the clock. My preference would be that Benny Snell be the main back but they may choose to go by committee, and that’s fine too, as long as they are moving the football, controlling the clock and helping Hodges.
It’s more than likely going to come down to special teams and a last-minute field goal by Chris Boswell, set up by a punt return from Johnson.
In the end, I see the Steelers winning another close game, late 23-20.