The Buffalo Bills return home on Sunday when they play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Orchard Park at 1:00. Buffalo is coming off of a nail-biting 23-20 win down in Baltimore last week and are now enormous favorites (-14) over the Steelers. Can the Bills stay atop the AFC with a win over Pittsburgh? Here are the top five things I believe they need to do to get another dub on Sunday.
Do Your Job
The one place where you may argue is the offensive line, and that is because neither is all that great, and both require an upgrade this offseason. Buffalo has a better quarterback, better skill players, a better defensive line (TJ Watt’s injury is a huge bummer for Pittsburgh), better linebackers, and a better secondary. If the Bills simply play to the best of their abilities, they should handle the historical 14-point spread Las Vegas has put on this game. If you don’t want to believe my eye test, our friends at Pro Football Focus (PFF) agree. Buffalo is ranked four spots ahead of Pittsburgh in passing grade, nine spots better in rushing, and ten notches higher in defense. It’s an oversimplification, but the Bills just need to DO YOUR JOB.
The Bills are tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions this season. They will be without their leader in the secondary in safety Jordan Poyer though. The all-pro has four picks and was on pace for the greatest intercepting season in history. Without the man fans call All-Pro Po, they will rely on the second flight of players. Expect a healthy helping of Jaquan Johnson, Damar Hamlin, and Taron Johnson who saw 100% of snaps when Poyer missed the Miami game. On the other side, Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett was more than willing to give the ball away in his first regular season action. The Pitt product threw three picks in just 13 attempts against the New York Jets last week. Buffalo’s defense should have plenty of chances for turnovers. If they can rattle the young signal caller early, this game could get out of hand, and the Bills should cruise to a victory.
Party in the Backfield
If the Bills want to do the above, PICK KENNY, it can start with their outstanding pass rush. According to PFF, the Bills have three of the 20 best EDGE pass rushers in 2022. Entering week five, the Bills have Boogie Basham ranked #2, Greg Rousseau #12, and Von Miller #20. That is a lot for a rookie QB to handle in his first start in the NFL… but wait, there’s more! Jordan Phillips is currently ranked 9th among all interior defensive linemen. The Steelers have only allowed eight sacks so far this season, but I’m willing to bet that number goes up in chucks on Sunday.
Let Josh Cook
This one is as simple as it sounds. Let Josh Allen go do Josh Allen things. You don’t need me to tell you how good the Bills’ QB has been, he is the MVP favorite for a reason, but I will display his crazy stats one more time. Entering week five, Allen is 2nd in passing yards at 1,227. He is one passing touchdown out of being tied for 1st, which is currently 11. Allen is 6th in completion percentage. He is 2nd in PFF’s overall offensive grade, behind the remarkable start to the season of Geno Smith. His overall passing grade is 7th among QBs who have more than one start. Lastly, his QB rushing grade is 1st by a lot. The Bills need to let Josh be Josh, and they should move to 4-1 rather easily.
All Gas, No Brakes
I told you in week one that “all gas, no brakes” could be a key to victory each week, and so far, so good. The Bills have dominated the second half of games, and it is paying off in their 3-1 start to the season. So far, Buffalo has outscored its opponents 63-7 in the second half of games. You read that right, SIXTY-THREE to SEVEN! The adjustments made by Sean McDermott and company are working on both sides of the ball. They need to keep that up in week five and beyond. For this game specifically, I’d like to see them enter the third quarter and put their foot on the throats of the Steelers. For the most part, this is a young offense with a rookie QB, second-year running back, and relatively young wideouts. Get them in their feelings and walk to another dominant win.