New series we’ll do each Sunday morning before kickoff. A prediction of what will happen if the Pittsburgh Steelers win, if they lose, and my final score prediction. My outlook on this afternoon’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Steelers Will Win If…
– They can bust off a big run in the snow. The weather, which is probably going to be terrible, is going to make an aerial assault tough. The Steelers run game should be solid, especially if the Bills’ Kyle Williams is sidelined, but it needs to produce splash that’s been sorely missing all year. Just two runs of 20+ yards all season, the fewest in the league despite having the league’s best back. A paradox if there ever was one.
Need a Jerome Bettis vs the Bears type of game. A couple of surprising long runs and Le’Veon Bell truck-sticking a linebacker. All you’ll need to do is shotgun an Iron City and you’ll be in Steelers’ heaven.
– The defense avoids the triple chunk. The Bills’ passing game is far from potent but when they hit the big play, boy do they. Four completions of 60+ yards this year, tied for most in the league. Now, weather will help mitigate those things but by that same token, you can expect the Steelers to play almost exclusively with eight in the box, a stark contrast to last week.
That will open up things on the outside and all it takes is one slide in the snow to get beat and allow a back-breaking play.
– Pittsburgh tackles well. Pretty obvious, yes? Give them a lot of credit, the missed tackles are way way down from the losing skid and there’s an obvious correlation – not just causation – between the two. Can’t allow runs that should’ve gone for five go for 15, like they were before.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
– Rex Ryan strikes again. Ben Roethlisberger historically has had his most trouble with the Baltimore Ravens and Ryan’s current defense is similar into it. It’s that “voodoo” defense with a lot of moving pieces, especially in “and long” situations. Couple that with the weather and the Steelers being away from home, even if they’re a stones throw from Lake Erie, there’s a chance for regression.
– Special teams’ penalties continue. There were a major issue last week and need to be cleaned up today. With the weather, that’s the recurring theme here, the offense can’t get backed up even more because of a dumb pre or post-snap penalty.
That’s the kind of stuff that will make Danny Smith take a Greyhound back to Pittsburgh. Or maybe left in Buffalo altogether.
– Buffalo’s window dressing is too much to handle. They’re one of the most complex offenses in the league pre-snap and the one second afterwards and mesh that well with a talented, physical core. The Steelers are going to be in their base 3-4 a good bit and, assuming Javon Hargrave is out, curiously dressed just four defensive linemen.
Not that anyone was expecting or hoping to see Caushaud Lyons but sheesh, they’re one injury away from not being able to rotate. The Bills are going to look to wear the Steelers out and when a defense is tired, they’re less keen on reading their keys. Against this offense, that can’t fly, unless you’re interested in giving up chunk plays.