AFC Game Of The Week

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers

Bills: Although they fell short against the Baltimore Ravens, they still are in a good position right now at 9-4. If you could’ve told me that the Buffalo Bills would be in one of the Wild Card spots in the AFC at this point of the season, then you’re good. They had a tough day against Baltimore in week 14. Then again, that’s expected because that team is on another level right now. The Bills fought back, but it was too late. What I enjoy about them is how they play hard from the first 15 minutes until the clock has three zeros. You must admire that. It was a tough day for Josh Allen. He got off to a rocky start completing one of his first eight pass attempts. He would end up finishing the game 17 for 39 for 146 yards passing and a touchdown. However, I can’t put a lot of this on Josh. I’ve always said for years that you truly play as well as the five guys up front protecting you. His offensive line was horrible. They gave up six sacks. As I said up top, it had been a rough day for the quarterback, but he could never get into a rhythm or build any confidence because he was under consistent pressure. The one place where they shined was on defense keeping Lamar Jackson contained in the pocket and holding him to under 50 yards rushing. The next two games are huge for the Buffalo Bills. The first test comes on Sunday night at the human ketchup bottle in Pittsburgh (Heinz Field)

Steelers: There’s been some parody in the league this season. At one point, they were 0-3. Through five games, they were 1-4. Count them out. They’re finished. Mike Tomlin is on the hot seat. The team must fire him after this year, right? In the words of the legendary college football analyst, Lee Corso: Not so fast! Now, to my favorite words, let’s break this down: The Pittsburgh Steelers trade Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders, after sitting out all of last season, Le’Veon Bell signs a free agent contract with the New York Jets in the off-season, then, Ben Roethlisberger injures his elbow which forces him to miss the rest of the season. Juju Smith-Schuster has been sidelined with an injury as has James Conner. Oh, let’s also mention that the team is now down to their third string quarterback in Devlin Hodges. The Steelers are 8-5 and in prime position to make the playoffs. I’ve always had a ton of respect for Mike Tomlin. This is hands down his best coaching job to date. I’ll admit about a month or two ago, I kept saying the coach of the year was Sean Payton. I may need to change that. Mike has done more with less and has the Steelers in a good spot. When you watch them play, they’re doing exactly what they did when Ben was just coming into the league. A heavy dose of the running game, Hodges managing the game then the defense handles the rest! Speaking of their defense, Minkah Fitzpatrick has been a godsend for this team. He’s been their best secondary player since Troy Polamalu. He also serves as the heart and soul of the entire defense, that’s exactly what Ryan Shazier was. To keep the ball moving, they welcome the Bills to town.

Bills Player to Watch: Star Lotulelei– The one thing the Bills needed to improve on was getting that guy that can impose his will up the middle. They made the perfect signing in Star. With the attention he commands, he allows guys like Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson to receive those one on one looks. Star also helps the linebackers. He’ll be key in limiting the run of the Steelers in this one.

Steelers Player to Watch: James Washington– I remember him back from his days at Oklahoma State. With Juju out with injuries, he’s really stepped his game up. James has become that number one option for Devlin Hodges. He reminds me a lot of Doug Baldwin with his ability to get up the field. He’s been carving apart defenses as of late. Someone’s had to become that number one receiver. He’s answered the call.

Final Analysis: I’m sure this game looked like a dud at one point this season. Now here it is on the primetime stage. Both teams occupy the two Wild Card spots in the AFC. The Bills are at five and Steelers have the six. Josh Allen and this offensive line better be prepared for this one. The Steelers defense became rejuvenated with the arrival of Minkah Fitzpatrick. If Josh was overwhelmed by what the Ravens did, just imagine what Pittsburgh will do. I see the Steelers throwing lots of pressure with throwing different looks. They will also blitz. The Bills haven’t had much luck against Pittsburgh. The last time they beat the Steelers was in 1999. For them to have a chance, taking care of the ball against this defense is crucial. The Steelers thrive off the turnover.

Prediction: Bills 23 Steelers 20


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