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2021 South Side Questions: Does Makeshift O-Line Stand A Chance Against Buffalo’s Fearsome Front?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Does the Steelers’ offensive line stand a chance against the Bills’ front seven?

It’s not a novel concept that a game of football could be decided in the trenches. But the deck is stacked against the Steelers here. Their offensive line is nearly entirely different from what it was last year, including two mid-round rookie starters and a former Pro Bowler who doesn’t look like a current Pro Bowler.

Meanwhile, the Bills have a brutal defensive line, featuring Jerry Hughes, Ed Oliver, Star Lotulelei, and Mario Addison as starters, and with a deep rotation behind them. That includes rookie first-round draft pick Greg Rousseau. Lotulelei, however, will be down.

The offensive lineman that Steelers fans feel best about is Kevin Dotson, and he still has a lot to prove. The right side of the offensive line is questionable at best, with Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle and the veteran Trai Turner looking to revitalize his career at right guard in David DeCastro’s old spot.

Will the offense and rookie running back Najee Harris be able to run the ball against this defensive line in their very first test, on the road? Will they be able to give Ben Roethlisberger time enough to throw?

The Bills’ defense has talent at all three levels, including Tremaine Edmunds at linebacker and Tre’Davious White in the secondary, so it’s not like it gets much easier if you can escape the front four. One way or another, the Steelers offense, particularly the line, will have its hands full this afternoon in Buffalo.

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