Home Steelers 2023 Season SCB Three-Point Stance: Your Steelers-Bills Gameday Guide

SCB Three-Point Stance: Your Steelers-Bills Gameday Guide

by Steeldad
steelcityblitz.com

We’ve reached the the postseason! Here’s everything you need to know about the AFC Wild-Card Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills.

What:  Pittsburgh Steelers 10-7 at Buffalo Bills 11-6

Where: Highmark Stadium Orchard Park, NY

WhenSunday January 14th, 2024   UPDATE: 430pmET Monday January 15th, 2024

Weather:  20 degrees and steady winds at 20mph with gusts higher. Light snow possible.

Wagering Information: Bills -9.5 O/U 36

Last Week: The Bills came from behind to beat the Dolphins in Miami 21-14 while the Steelers beat the Ravens in Baltimore 17-10.

TV:  CBS Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analysis), Jay Feely (analysis), Tracy Wolfson (field reporter)

TV Coverage in Your Area: National TV Audience

Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Craig Wolfley (analysis), Missi Matthews (sideline),
Max Starks (sideline)

Westwood One: Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Tony Boselli (analysis), Ryan Leaf (analysis)

Head Official: Carl Cheffers. In his 16th year as a head official, Cheffers is a sales manager in his everyday job. His last game officiating the Steelers was this year’s 17-10 home victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Cheffers has overseen three Super Bowls (LI, LV, LVII). He was heavily criticized in Super Bowl LV where his crew called eight penalties for 95 yards on the Kansas City Chiefs. Six of the eight were first downs for the eventual champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: No. 90 LB T.J. Watt (Knee) – Out BUF: No. 13 WR Gabe Davis (Knee) – Out, No. 25 LB Tyrel Dodson (Shoulder) – Questionable, No. 31 CB Rasul Douglas (Knee) – Questionable, No. 20 S Taylor Rapp (Calf) – Out

Injury Notes: You know the story… The Steelers without T.J. Watt are not the Steelers. Not only are they 1-10in games without him but opposing passers see their ratings jump by as much as 40 points when he’s not chasing them. With Davis out I tend to believe the Bills will focus on those tight ends more especially as poorly as the Steelers defend the middle.

2023 Final NFL Ranks:

Total Offense: PIT 28th  BUF 6th Passing Offense: PIT 25th BUF 8th Rushing Offense: PIT 13th BUF 7th

Total Defense: PIT 6th BUF 4th Passing Defense: PIT 17th BUF 7th Rushing Defense: PIT 19th BUF 15th

AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 13-4, Cleveland 11-6, Pittsburgh 10-7, Cincinnati 9-8

This Week in the AFC North: Cleveland at Houston 430pmET SAT, Baltimore BYE

What You Need to Know: The Steelers have lost three straight postseason games… They have surrendered 45, 48 and 42 points in those three games… Pittsburgh is 8-1 when holding the opponent to 19 points or less… The Steelers are 7-6 in 1pm games this year… T.J. Watt is the first player in NFL history to lead the league in sacks three times… Mike Tomlin is making his 11th appearance in the postseason as a head coach. He’s tied for 10th all-time on that list… The Steelers have played in 62 postseason games which is the most all-time since the 1970 merger.

Buffalo Bills Names to Know: QB Josh Allen, WR Stephon Diggs, TE Dalton Kincaid, TE Dawson Knox, DT Ed Oliver, K Tyler Bass, RB James Cook, DT Linval Joseph, S Jordon Poyer, DE Shaq Lawson, WR Khalil Shakir, DE Greg Rousseau

What’s at Stake: A victory sends the Steelers back to Baltimore for a divisional round game with the Ravens. A loss and the season is over. A Bills’ victory would see them host the highest remaining seed while the lowest would go to Baltimore.

All-Time Series:  Steelers Lead 17-12. Bills Lead in Buffalo 9-7

Last Meeting:  2023 in Buffalo. Bills 38 Steelers 3

Postseason History:  Steelers lead 2-1

Steelers Game Highs vs BUFPASSING: 330 yards Bubby Brister 09/25/1988 RUSHING: 236 yards Le’Veon Bell 12/11/2016 RECEIVING: 118 yards Weegie Thompson 09/25/1988 SACKS: 3.0 Kevin Greene 11/14/1994 Interceptions: 2 Levon Kirkland 09/16/1996 and Dwayne Woodruff 12/12/1982

Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on the Steelers.

Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:

1.    It’s All About the Ball. Last week the Steelers played in a cold monsoon and the ball was on the ground A LOT! This week it’s going to be brutal with cold, wind and possibly snow. Both Mason Rudolph and Jaylen Warren had some issues getting a handle on the ball and that means that it’s going to be the same this week. On the flip-side, Bills QB Josh Allen is prone to turn the ball over whether through the air and on the ground. Thus, this game is going to likely come down to who takes care of the ball better. The Steelers have a terrific record this season when they win the turnover battle so keep an eye on this.

2.  You Don’t Replace T.J. Watt But… Most of you know that stat. The Steelers are 1-10 all-time when Watt isn’t able to play. That’s not good. There’s also no one that can come close to affecting a game the way Watt can so what does Teryl Austin do? It’s likely he’s going to have to go with a three-man rotation but I expect Alex Highsmith and Markus Golden to be the starters. Nick Herbig will have to fill in as needed. I’m concerned less about getting pressure on Allen and I’m more concerned about how well these guys set the edge and limit the run. We saw a little more blitzing from Austin last week and I think he’s going to need to do that again but he’ll have to be selective due to Allen’s running ability.

3. The Kicking Game. Wind gusts to 50mph??? We might see a kick or punt go straight up and come straight back towards the kicker. Both Chris Boswell and Pressley Harvin III (the Steelers did bring back Brad Wing this week) will need to be extremely mindful of what their doing this week. Warm-ups will be extremely important in terms of gauging the wind but with gusts so strong it will be difficult on each and every kick. Field position will be huge and that means Harvin must be disciplined. He can’t afford to have his routine “one or two bad punts.” His position as the holder on Boswell’s kicks is just as important. While turnovers are big, the kicking game will be just as important Sunday.

Prediction: After weeks of complete and utter futility I finally nailed one last week. Everything in my mind tells me the Bills will win this game simply because of the QB position, a better defense and those ugly stats when Watt doesn’t play. But there’s also something deep down telling me this Steelers’ team is going to make this one interesting. If the weather forecast holds, don’t be surprised to see Najee Harris get 30 carries. Will that be enough? I honestly don’t know but I think this game swings on a Josh Allen turnover.

UPDATE: The change in time should give the Bills an advantage as the conditions will be better for throwing the ball. That said, I’ll stick with my original prediction.

Steelers 20 Bills 17

Season Prediction Record: 7-10

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