ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The last time the Bills and Steelers met they played on Sunday Night Football, and the Bills clinched a playoff spot. This Sunday, the Bills have a chance to do just that for the second straight year.
Here are the Sunday Night Football predictions from the WKBW sports staff
From the moment the Bills scheduled was released back in the spring, the matchup against the Steelers has been circled by fans. Two good teams, playing on Sunday Night Football in December. It’s the perfect storm for a game Bills fans will remember for years.
Here’s the thing — I’m not sure any Bills fan or even Steelers fan for that matter would’ve said before the season that Pittsburgh would be 11-1. Sure, some experts and fans believe the Steelers have played a relatively easy schedule but this is still probably the most complete team the Bills have played this season.
On offense, Ben Roethlisberger has played very well despite an uninspiring rushing game. Lined up at wide receiver, the Steelers have four players who can explode any given week. While JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool probably get the most recognition, Diontae Johnson and James Washington are also really talented players. Add tight end Eric Ebron into the mix and you can see why they throw the ball so often.
And then there’s the Steelers defense — considered by man the best unit in the league. Despite some injuries to key contributors, outside linebacker T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick can take over a game. In 12 games this season, Watt has 12 sacks and 37 quarterback hits. Considering how the Bills have struggled this season against elite pass rushers like Joey Bosa and Aaron Donald, this is a potential mismatch where the Steelers could have the edge. As for Fitzpatrick, he has four interceptions this season but always seems to make a big play when his team needs it. The Steelers defense is legit and will absolutely slow down the Bills high-powered offense.
But here’s the thing — I’m not sure if they can slow the Bills down enough. Against the 49ers, the Josh Allen led offense was extraordinary and seemed to put up points at will. They won’t be able to do that Sunday night, but with the injuries the Steelers have at linebacker, the Bills should be allow to complete quick passes to Cole Beasley and get some chunk plays on the ground.
It’s going to be close, but let’s not kid ourselves, with the Bills they almost all are.
Bills 26, Steelers 24
Season record: 10-2
This one was hard for me to predict because of how these teams have looked as of late. The Steelers are coming off a game where they looked so vulnerable while the Bills are coming off one of their most consistent performances.
The Bills offense is clicking and the Steelers are finding ways to win. It’s weird to see them veer away from the run since that’s what tends to work against the Bills defense, but the corners will be tested heavily in this game against a young receiving corps who has a guy like Ben Roethlisberger throwing to them.
I think the Bills are playing some of their best football right now but I’m not a good decision maker so I left the decision to a piece of paper and a pick a number option.
The number that was picked belonged to Pittsburgh so that’s who I’m going with... although deep down, I think the Bills will turn more heads on a national stage.
Steelers 24, Bills 20
Season record: 9-3
It feels like almost every time I pick against the Bills, they find a way to prove me wrong. But just because the Steelers were made mortal by Washington last week doesn’t mean this one is a shoe-in for the Bills.
The horizontal passing game the Steelers have utilized is something the Bills know well and use themselves. Pittsburgh’s been using it to make up for a lack of a ground game.
But starting running back James Conner is back from the COVID-19 list. Buffalo’s spotty run defense is an opportunity for the PA native to put himself back on the map.
And we haven’t even touched on the 2020 edition of the Steel Curtain. They lead the league in sacks and interceptions and boast star power all over their defense.
The Bills have the talent to hang with the Steelers, but they need to play a complete 60 minutes to win this one. And I’d argue they haven’t played a complete game all year.
Steelers 27, Bills 17
Season record: 8-4