AFC

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills Preview

Steelers

Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! NGSC Sports is where you come to find everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation) brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a game story, Steelers keys to success, score prediction, game information, a detailed breakdown of each team, individual stats, team stats, and team injury reports. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

Steelers eying AFC 5th seed in Sunday Night Football tilt vs Buffalo

When the Steelers (8-5) take the field Sunday night vs the Buffalo Bills (9-5), not only is a playoff spot on the line but so is the #5 seed in the AFC Playoffs, as a win vs the Bills would vault Pittsburgh over Buffalo and give them a tie-breaker advantage to boot.

It will be cold on Sunday night at Heinz Field.

Don’t expect it to affect Devlin Hodges.

“Ducks like it when it’s a little bit colder anyway,” said Pittsburgh’s quarterback, who has embraced the nickname “Duck” by coaches, teammates, and fans alike.

Though Duck’s best wide out in Juju Smith-Schuster will miss another game, don’t expect the Steelers offense to feel bad for themselves.

Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and Deon Cain are ready to continue leading the way until he returns.

“It doesn’t really affect things for me,” Washington said of playing without Smith-Schuster.

“We’ve got Diontae, Deon, all these guys that can go out for the moment.”

Washington has managed 11 catches and two touchdowns over the three games without Smith-Schuster.

Johnson scored twice last week, one via punt return, and another on a laser pass by Devlin Hodges.

“I have more confidence going into this week,” said Johnson. “I had a good game, and making plays like that made me feel like myself again, like I was in college.”

With Smith-Schuster out, it has given the younger members of the receiver corps to gain valuable experience.

“The more plays that get made, and the more consistent we are as a group, then it lessens that load and allows everyone to be a little bit more involved, per se,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. “You know, we go in every week trying to keep everyone involved, but defenses dictate decisions, dictate protections, dictate those kind of things.”

The Steelers offense will certainly have it’s hands full Sunday night, as the Bills have the #3 ranked defense in the NFL, and are #3 vs the pass.

“They (his fellow wide receivers) have been snapping out there this whole past week and just doing their job,” Smith-Schuster said. “It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come with the guys out there on the field.”

Offensively, the Bills rely on their rushing attack. John Brown has stepped up big time as a receiver this year, and Cole Beasley has gathered six TD passes, but this team is best effective when they can run. Josh Allen has eight rushing touchdowns this year and has more designed run plays that Lamar Jackson does. He is big, strong, and tough to tackle. Devin Singletary is the lead back and is having a nice rookie season. Frank Gore keeps defying time as the back-up.

This will be a game won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes.

People keep doubting this Steelers team, but this will be the week where they can finally laugh at their detractors. This being a home game, at Heinz Field, under the lights in prime time, along with a dash of color rush uniforms, you can expect a hard-fought game that will keep you on the edge of your seat all night, but in the end, it will be the Steelers who stand tall and all but secure a playoff berth in the 2019 season.

 

Prediction: Steelers 17 Bills 13

Pittsburgh’s Key’s to Success

  1. Bottle up Josh Allen and Bills running game: The Bills live and die by their running game. Both Josh Allen and Devin Singletary can kill you if you arm tackle. Gang tacking and bringing down the runner on contact is a must Sunday night.
  2. Keep Josh Allen pressured: Allen is good at short passes, but is downright terrible when throwing beyond 15 yards against tough defenses. Pressure from T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Javon Hargrave, and Cam Heyward may force a few interceptions if he goes deep.
  3. Be creative offensively: Injuries have served a few good purposes, and that is experience for young players. Use your weapons to their abilities. Example… Kerrith Whyte has tremendous speed. Perhaps a screen or a check down to him in space to give him a chance to make a defender miss. Utilize play action and counters to keep an aggressive Bills defense on their heels. Same with Jaylen Samuels. James Conner being back will also help.
  4. Play smart, but not scared: I understand the coaches don’t want to ask Duck Hodges to take over the game, but let Hodges manage the game and take some shots downfield to keep the Bills defense honest. He has enough play-makers that can go get the ball now.

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Game Information

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.

Field: Natural Grass

Game-time: Sunday, December 15th, at 8:20 pm ET

TV: NBC (Local on WPXI-TV)

  • Announcers: Al Michaels   (play-by-play) Cris Collinsworth (analyst) Michele Tafoya (reporter)

Local radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE & WBGG 970 AM

  • Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) Craig Wolfley (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)

Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com

Weather at kickoff: Mostly cloudy. 34 degrees. Winds WSW 5-10 MPH.

Vegas Line: Steelers -1.5

NFL Standings / NFL Scoreboard

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills History

Series history: Began in 1970

Steelers are 16-9 overall vs the Bills

  • At home: 210-2
  • On the road: 6-7
  • Postseason: 2-1
  • Streak: Steelers won the last five games.
  • Last regular-season meeting: Dec. 11, 2016, in Buffalo (Steelers 27, Bills 20)
  • Last postseason meeting: Jan. 6th, 1996, in Pittsburgh
    (Pittsburgh 40, Bills 21) – AFC Divisional Playoffs

 

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall record: 8-5

Head coach: Mike Tomlin (13th Season with Steelers)

  • Overall regular-season record: 133-71-1 (.647)
  • Playoff record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)

2019 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster

Steelers Team Statistics

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Schedule 

Last game: Steelers 23 Cardinals 17

 

 

Offense

Quarterbacks

Devlin Hodges*

The former Samford quarterback has shown no fear when pressed into the starting role. What pressure? He’s only 3-0, already defeating a future HOF, and the last two Heisman and Overall #1 picks in the NFL Draft.

Passing yards: 682

  • TD Passes: 4 / Interceptions: 2
  • Sacks: 6

Yards rushing: 65

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Mason Rudolph

Yes, this is Rudolph’s first season being a starter with Big Ben out, but he has failed to grab the job by the reigns. Lack of confidence and bad pocket presence has hampered his game significantly.

Passing yards: 1,636

  • TD Passes: 12 / Interceptions: 9
  • Sacks: 14

Yards rushing: 43

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Running backs

Benny Snell, Jr.*

Looking more confident each week. Gets better as the game goes on. Falls forward on every tackle.

Yards rushing: 320

  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Receptions: 3

  • Yards receiving: 23 / Receiving TD’s: 0

James Conner 

Down year after a Pro Bowl season. On the sidelines with injuries way too much. Was playing better before he suffered a shoulder injury.

Yards rushing: 390

  • Rushing TD’s: 4

Receptions: 30

  • Yards receiving: 242 / Receiving TD’s: 2

Jaylen Samuels

Athletic player who can play several positions. Dangerous as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Yards rushing: 169

  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Receptions: 41

  • Yards receiving: 252 / Receiving TD’s: 1

Trey Edmunds

Good dual purpose back.

Yards rushing: 92

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 6

  • Yards receiving: 48 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Kerrith Whyte

Superb speed that takes defenses by surprise. Would like to see more passes to him in space.

Yards rushing: 94

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 1

  • Yards receiving: 9 / Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Juju Smith-Schuster

Smith-Schuster has struggled this season without Roethlisberger at the helm. Hopeful to see flashes of his old self when he returns from a knee injury.

Receptions: 38

  • Receiving yards: 524 / Receiving TD’s: 3

Diontae Johnson*

Talented rookie who makes the most of every reception. Blessed with wicked moves in open space. Needs to be more consistent.

Receptions: 42

  • Receiving yards: 483 / Receiving TD’s: 4

James Washington*

He was ready to have a breakout season and establish himself as a big-time play-maker in the NFL. Has been the team’s best receiver with Juju out.

Receptions: 34

  • Receiving yards: 611 / Receiving TD’s: 3

Tevin Jones

Receptions: 4

  • Receiving yards: 61 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Deon Cain

Former Clemson Tiger has speed and talent. May be a steal from the Colts.

Receptions: 3

  • Receiving yards: 62 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Johnny Holton

Steelers deep threat, but has only one has catch.

Receptions: 1

  • Receiving yards: 22 / Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Vance McDonald*

The Vanimal, when unleashed, is a sight to see. Unfortunately, he has not played up to expectations this season. Injuries have slowed him all year.

Receptions: 33

  • Receiving yards: 245
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Nate Vannett

The Ohio State product was acquired from the Seahawks earlier this season. Best used as a blocker.

Receptions: 7

  • Receiving yards: 70
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter

 

Offensive line

Left Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva

Left Guard: B.J. Finney/Ramon Foster

Center: Maurkice Pouncey

Right Guard: David DeCastro

Right Tackle: Matt Feiler/Zach Banner

 

Defense (Base 3-4)

Defensive end: Cam Heyward

Defensive tackle: Javon Hargrave/Dan McCullers

Defensive end: Tyson Alualu

Left outside linebacker: T.J. Watt

Left middle linebacker: Devin Bush/Mark Baron

Right middle linebacker: Vince Willams

Right outside linebacker: Bud Dupree

Cornerback: Joe Haden

Strong safety: Terrell Edmunds

Free safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick

Cornerback: Steven Nelson/Artie Burns

Nickle: Mike Hilton/Cameron Sutton

 

Special Teams

Placekicker

Chris Boswell

Extra points: 25-25

Field goals: 26-28

  • 0-19: 1-1 / 20-29: 10-10 / 30-39: 7-7 / 40-49:  7-8 / 50+:  1-2
  • Long: 51

Punter

Jordan Berry

Yards per punt: 46.1

 

Kickoff Returner

Kerrith Whyte

Yards per kickoff return: 18.7

  • Return TD’s: 0

 

Punt Returner

Diontae Johnson

Yards per kickoff return: 12.7

  • Return TD’s: 1

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Buffalo Bills

Overall record: 9-4

Head coach: Sean McDermott (3rd season with Bills)

  • Overall regular-season record: 24-21 / 24-21 with Bills
  • Playoff record: 0-0 (Qualified for playoffs 0 times)

2019 Buffalo Bills Team Roster

Buffalo Team Statistics

Last game: Ravens 24 Bills 17

 

Offense

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen*

Big and strong. Good runner. Has problems throwing over 15 yards vs tough defenses.

Passing yards: 2,737

  • TD passes: 17
  • Interceptions: 8
  • Sacks: 33

Yards rushing: 439

  • Rushing TD’s: 8

 

Running backs

Devin Singletary*

The rookie back is getting better with experience. Has a bright future ahead.

Yards rushing: 642

  • Rushing TD’s: 2

Receptions: 26

  • Yards receiving: 190
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Frank Gore

Time never catches this guy, but tacklers have as the season has progressed.

  • Yards rushing: 558
  • Rushing TD’s: 2

Receptions: 10

  • Yards receiving: 84
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Patrick DiMarco

  • Yards rushing: 7
  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 5

  • Yards receiving: 41
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

John Brown*

Bills leading receiver with 908 yards. Nice speed and hands.

Receptions: 64

  • Receiving yards: 908
  • Receiving TD’s: 5

Cole Beasley* 

Beasley has dug himself a nice role in the Bills offense. Tough kid who never stops.

Receptions: 59

  • Receiving yards: 664
  • Receiving TD’s: 6

Isaiah McKenzie

Receptions: 23

  • Receiving yards: 236
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Zay Jones

Receptions: 7

  • Receiving yards: 69
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Robert Foster

The local product has been hampered by injuries after a decent rookie season.

Receptions: 3

  • Receiving yards: 64
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Tight Ends

Dawson Knox*

Receptions: 26

  • Receiving yards: 344
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Lee Smith

Receptions: 4

  • Receiving yards: 31
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

*Denotes Starter

 

Defense (Base 3-4)

One of the league’s stingiest defenses, only allowing 296.8 total yards per game and 16.3 points per game. They have 15 players who have recorded a sack. Only 16 takeaways in 2019. By comparison, the Steelers have doubles them at 33.

Special teams

Placekicker

Stephen Hauschka

Extra points: 26-28

FG: 18-24

  • 0-19: 0-0 / 20-29: 3-3 / 30-39: 5-6 / 40-49: 9-10 / 50+: 1-5
  • Long: 54

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Injury Report (12/13/19)

Pittsburgh

  • Out: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Knee)
  • Doubtful: TE Vance McDonald (Concussion)
  • Questionable: RB James Conner

Buffalo

  • Out: OT Ty Nsekhe (Ankle)
  • Doubtful: N/A
  • Questionable: OG Jon Feliciano (Illness), DT Corey Liuget (Knee)

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Offensive Stats

Total yards per game 

  • Pittsburgh: 302.6
  • Buffalo: 357.8

Passing yards per game

  • Pittsburgh: 208
  • Buffalo: 222.5

Rushing yards per game

  • Pittsburgh: 94.6
  • Buffalo: 135.3

Points per game

  • Pittsburgh: 19.9
  • Buffalo: 21.1

 

Defensive Stats

Total yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 310.9
  • Buffalo: 296.8

Passing yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 209.8
  • Buffalo: 191.5

Rushing yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 101.2
  • Buffalo: 105.3

Points allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 18.6
  • Buffalo: 16.3

Sacks

  • Pittsburgh: 48
  • Buffalo: 38

Interceptions

  • Pittsburgh: 18
  • Buffalo: 9

Fumbles recovered

  • Pittsburgh: 15
  • Buffalo: 7

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.

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