With the 2019 regular season coming down to the final three weeks, the playoff race is getting tight. At this point in the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the sixth spot and control their own destiny to make the playoffs. This Sunday's game will play a huge role in the playoff picture. The Steelers will host the Buffalo Bills in a Sunday Night Football match up with both teams looking to secure a wild card spot. Buffalo is currently sitting in the fifth spot but the winner of this game will slide into that position. With these high stakes in mind, let's take a closer look at this week's opponent, the Buffalo Bills.
Bills Injury Report
Luckily for the Bills, they don't have a ton of new injuries to worry about, but they still have some to monitor going into Sunday's game. On offense, running back Frank Gore (illness) and tackle Ty Nsekhe (ankle) are listed as questionable. Nsekhe was unable to practice on Thursday and Gore's practice status was not listed.
Can Josh Allen Take Care of the Ball Against the Steelers Defense?
Buffalo's offensive attack has revolved around the big arm of second-year quarterback Josh Allen this season. They like to stretch the field with Allen as he has thrown for 2,737 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. However, he also can be risky with the ball at times as he has thrown eight interceptions so far.
This Sunday will be a huge test for him as he will be facing a Pittsburgh defense that leads the league in takeaways, led by free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick who is tied for the league lead with five interceptions. Allen will be hoping for a big game from deep threat wide receiver John Brown who is 18th in the league in receiving with 64 receptions for 908 yards and five touchdowns. He is joined in the receiving core by Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie, Duke Williams, and Robert Foster, along with tight ends Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft.
While their passing attack has been decent this season, the Bills have seemed to have likely found their running back of the future in rookie Devin Singletary. Singletary currently leads the Bills in rushing with 642 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 115 carries. He shares carries with future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore who has 558 rushing yards and two touchdowns so far this season. Allen has also added to the run game and shown that he has true dual-threat ability as he has rushed for 439 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns this season.
Bills Defense Looks to Continue Their Dominance
The Bills offense has had their moments this season but it is their defense that has led this team this season. Buffalo is currently third in the league in total defense allowing 296.8 yards of total offense per game and 16.3 points per game. Their strength has been against the pass, ranking third in the league. The Bills secondary has allowed 191.5 yards per game and twelve total passing touchdowns while coming away with nine interceptions so far this season. Their secondary is led by corner back Tre'Davious White who is tied for second in the league with four interceptions. White is joined by Levi Wallace at the other corner, along with Taron Johnson playing the nickel. Kevin Johnson will also see some time in the rotation at corner. Jordan Poyer will start at strong safety with Micah Hyde at free safety.
As good as they've been against the pass, the Bills have been more towards the middle of the league against the run. They rank 14th in the league in run defense allowing 105.3 rushing yards per game and eleven total rushing touchdowns so far this season. Their front seven is led by inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds who has 56 tackles so far. He is joined in the linebacker core by Matt Milano and Lorenzo Alexander. In front of them, Trent Murphy and Jerry Hughes will start at the defensive ends with Shaq Lawson rotating in. Jordan Phillips and Star Lotulelei are listed as the starters at defensive tackle. If Phillips can't play, rookie Ed Oliver will start in his place. Regardless of injuries, Oliver and Corey Liuget will both see plenty of time in the rotation.
As we all know, there is a lot on the line in this game. That is the reason this game was moved to prime time. With this in mind, I see this being a very close game. I believe Josh Allen and their offense will make plays to keep them in this game. Also, the Bills defense will make things difficult for quarterback Devlin Hodges. However, Hodges doesn't have to be the one to win this game for the Steelers. I think he will do just enough to manage the game but it will be their running game that takes over. James Conner will be back from injury and I see him having a big game in his return. He will also have help from Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell Jr. when their names are called. This game will come down to the fourth quarter, where the electric crowd at Heinz Field and this talented Steelers defense will take over. I have the Steelers taking the late lead to win this one 24-20 and move up to the fifth spot in the playoff picture.