There’s nothing better than watching commentators debate who the better team is in a matchup. Today’s game at Heinz Field pits the top two contenders among the AFC wildcard spots against one another in the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills, and they have some interesting similarities.
For one thing, they are both teams who are primarily driven by their defenses. While the Steelers are down to their fourth-string quarterback, both offenses are led by young players under center who, to some degree, have to be managed. And neither team has really had much success to date against the better teams in the league.
Former players DeAngelo Hall and Shaun O’Hara debated which team is the bigger threat to make a run in the postseason. The latter, a former quarterback, was up first, and he was a believer in the Bills and second-year quarterback Josh Allen.
I think we would be silly to sit here and think that the Pittsburgh Steelers with their third quarterback is better than the Buffalo Bills. The Josh Allen that I have seen play football…this is the dude who can take the team deep in the playoffs with that defense, that fanbase. Josh is frustrating though, because at times, it’s like, ‘Josh, what are you doing with the football?’. But when he’s playing really good football, when he’s scrambling, when he’s using his legs, when he’s accurate with the ball, I love Josh Allen and this Buffalo Bills team, so I hands down pick Buffalo.
Of course, one can make the argument that Devlin Hodges is, at least currently, better than the team’s second- and third-string quarterbacks, so it really doesn’t matter where he started in the pecking order. He’s not Ben Roethlisberger, but neither is Allen.
O’Hara’s New York Giants won the Super Bowl in between Pittsburgh’s two of the 2000s, and his thoughts in picking the Steelers were driven in large part based on what he saw his team’s defense do to some of the best offenses of this generation.
When you’re gonna try to make a run in the playoffs, if you’re gonna do it with a young quarterback, why not have a great pass rush? I won Super Bowl LXII because our defense got after Tom Brady’s you know what, and so give me the Pittsburgh Steelers right now with their three-headed monster. Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, you’ve got [Cameron] Heyward inside. So you’ve got guys who can disrupt the quarterback’s rhythm, collapse that pocket, and it’s not a blitz. Nobody wants to see that.
And when you look at them offensively, they’ve got some explosive players now. Diontae Johnson, all of a sudden, whether it’s special teams or just a simple little out route or a deep ball, they’ve gotten some explosive plays. So I think Pittsburgh would be a handful.
I think it can be fairly easily said, especially when comparing schedules—the Bills have played Miami twice, plus the NFC East—that the Steelers have the better defense. The entire league is still learning about Hodges. But it’s not like Allen is making the Pro Bowl this year. Could Hodges be the better quarterback of the two? We’ll need a larger sample size to determine that, and tonight’s game will be of aide there.
Who is the more dangerous potential playoff team:
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 15, 2019