The 2021 National Football League Season is upon us! We’ve got everything you need to know and more as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel north to Buffalo to take on the defending AFC East Champion Bills.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0)
Where: Highmark Stadium Orchard Park, New York
When: 1pm ET Sunday September 12th, 2021
Weather: 77 degrees with 50% chance of rain at kickoff
Line: Bills -6.5
Last Week: This is the opening game for both teams.
TV: CBS Ian Eagle, Charles Davis and Evan Washburn on the sidelines.
TV Coverage in Your Area: Check the coverage map at the506.com.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley with Missi Matthews and Max Starks on the sidelines. (RIP Tunch Ilkin)
Head Official: John Hussey. He enters his seventh season as a head official. He officiated three games last year involving the Steelers. The October home win over Cleveland, and then two home losses to the Washington Football Team and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: None BUF: DT Star Lotulelei (Calf) – Out
WR Emmanuel Sanders (Foot) – Questionable
Injury Notes: In terms of guys not on IR the Steelers are very healthy. The Bills meanwhile have a big loss with Lotulelei out. He’s a major part of their ability to stop the run.
Final 2020 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 12th BUF 2nd Passing Offense: PIT 15th BUF 3rd Rushing Offense: PIT 32nd BUF 20th
Total Defense: PIT 3rd BUF 14th Passing Defense: PIT 3rd BUF 13th Rushing Defense: PIT 11th BUF 17th
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 0-0, Cleveland 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0, Pittsburgh
This Week in the AFC North: Minnesota at Cincinnati 1pm, Cleveland at Kansas City 425pm, Baltimore at Las Vegas 815pm (Mon)
What You Need to Know: CB Joe Haden has recorded 149 career passes defended, which leads
the NFL since he entered the League in 2010 and leads active NFL players… Pittsburgh has registered at least 1.0 sack in an NFL record 73 straight regular-season games. Tampa Bay (1999-2003) held the previous League record (69 consecutive regular-season games)… LB T.J. Watt is the only active player in the NFL with at least 13.0 sacks in each of the last three seasons… LB Joe Schobert has registered at least 100 tackles in each of the last four seasons. His nine interceptions since entering the NFL in 2016 rank tied for second in the League among linebackers… The Steelers are 14-20-2 all-time when they open the season on the road… 17 straight seasons of a .500 record or better is a team record… With four wins, Mike Tomlin will tie Bill Cowher with 149 career victories.
Buffalo Bills Names to Know: QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs, RB Zach Moss, WR Cole Beasley, Devin Singletary, LB Tremaine Edmunds, CB Tre’Davious White, S Micah Hyde
What’s at Stake: I suppose the biggest thing at stake here is momentum. A loss in week one is not the end of the world but you want to play well, execute and avoid mistakes regardless. The Steelers know they have the next two weeks at home but would love to knock off a Super Bowl favorite in their own building.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 16-11
Last Meeting: Dec 2020 in Buffalo. Bills 26 Steelers 15
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on this game.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Take care of the football. If you look back at recent games against Buffalo, turnovers and dropped passes have been a big part of story. The Bills are too good offensively to just hand the ball over to and expect the Steelers’ D to shut them down each and every time. Rookie Kendrick Green has to make good snaps, Ben Roethlisberger must protect the ball in the pocket, the running backs must securely handle it and the receivers need to catch it! This is a really simple thing to list but if the Steelers don’t do it will be “L” for sure.
2. Contain Josh Allen. There are many, many people that are high on Allen for the MVP Award this season and there’s plenty to justify those feelings. Not only has he become a much more accurate passer but his ability to pick up yards on the ground is every bit as important. Keith Butler’s unit has to be disciplined in their pass rush. Do not let Allen find cracks on the inside and don’t let him break contain on the outside. But this is more that just about the run threat. His ability to keep plays alive and find receivers down field is just as dangerous. Tall task indeed for the defense.
3. Red Zone Success. No offense to Chris Boswell but the only time I want to see him Sunday is when he comes out for PATs. The Steelers have to re-assert their Red Zone dominance from a few years back. The presence of Pat Freiermuth should help this as his athletic, long body has already displayed the skills we hoped for. But even bigger than that is that the Steelers have to find dominance on the ground again down here too. Relying on Big Ben for every Red Zone score isn’t a proven formula. Balance is key and when you can ram it down a defense’s throat with Najee Harris there’s always a psychological effect at play too. I trust Matt Canada will have plenty of things cooked up for the Red Zone offense. It’s the players that need to execute it. Field goals are not going to win this game.
Prediction: Since the schedule came out in the spring I’ve been dreading this one. A revamped offensive line… A new offensive coordinator… No Stephon Tuitt… You get the picture. The Bills are an AFC favorite to go to the Super Bowl and with good reason. They made the AFC Title Game last year and bring back much of that team. They are opening at home in front of a raucous crowd so everything seems to flow in their favor. The Steelers will have to weather the early storm of emotion in the opening minutes. The best way to do that is by controlling the ball on offense and forcing three and outs on defense. Unfortunately, I think we are running into a buzzsaw Sunday. Too much has to go right for a victory and I see us making one or two mistakes that cost us.
Bills 30 Steelers 20
Season Prediction Record: 0-0