Week 5 of the NFL season brings the Pittsburgh Steelers to Orchard Park, and a lot of us are eager to watch the Buffalo Bills vaporize the Rusties. It me. I’m “a lot of us.” Your faithful bettor grew up in the liminal fandom zone north of Pittsburgh and south of Buffalo. Most of my friends and family are Steelers fans, and they won consistently, so, clearly, the only reasonable response to that much winning by a rival team is hatred. Thems the rules. There is a special place in my heart where the Patriots, Cowboys, and, yes, Steelers, will burn with the fire of a thousand infinite suns. So, as for me and my house, we will hate the Steelers.
Another thing to hate is losing, and last week brought a curse upon this house. Three Props for Week 4 was the first sub-.500 record for this series, and we’re not planning on doing it again. Devin Singletary cruised past his over on receiving yards again, but both Mark Andrews and Stefon Diggs fell short of their respective receptions lines. A lot went wrong for the Bills in the first half against the pesky Ravens, but Diggs only having two targets was a self-inflicted wound. His 17.6% target share for the game was this season’s lowest for the standout wideout.
Let’s find those prop lines that we’ll love. Let’s get that analysis money.
First Things First
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- Never bet more than you can afford to lose.
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- Don’t bet on what you don’t understand
- Check the other sportsbooks’ lines
- See Rule #1.
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Lastly, these are recommendations, not guarantees. Act accordingly.
It’ll be great when we can discuss a game script that doesn’t have to include injuries, but this week isn’t that week. Both teams face a ridiculous number of injuries, and Pittsburgh’s especially decimate their defense. Already minus one of the best defenders in the NFL in T.J. Watt, look at the injury report below. There are five defensive backs listed. Those DBs are Pittsburgh’s top five in pass defense EPA (SIS). Their best five DBs will be out or at least less than 100%.
The Steelers’ defensive line depth is also being tested. Since TJ Watt was injured in Week 1, Pittsburgh is last in sacks, points saved through pass rush, and WAR generated by the pass rush. They are 26th in pressure rate over the same time frame (All stats from SIS). Cameron Heyward, Alex Highsmith, Larry Ogunjobi, and the rest of the Steelers front seven have talent, but they are not the same group without Watt.
While the Bills have their own share of injuries, Mitch Morse has practiced in full and the Bills should have their entire OL intact in front of Josh Allen. A bevy of healthy wideouts is ideal, but a protected Allen with Diggs, Devin Singletary, 75% of Gabe Davis, and Khalil Shakir. The NFL is often a war of attrition, and that’s a key reason why having one of the deepest rosters is a critical advantage.
If the Steelers had a full complement of players on defense, the Pittsburgh D might be up to the challenge the Bills represent. Last year is proof. They do not have all their talent available though, and their offense is underwhelming and will be helmed by a rookie QB in his first start. Early miscues and a talented opponent prevented the Bills from a large margin of victory last week.
This week, the Steelers should not have the offensive or defensive firepower to hold up. The game script this week anticipates a Bills’ team looking to come out sharper than last week facing an opponent who is too depleted to be up to the task. It is beginning to feel repetitive, but that’s what happens when your team is one of the deepest in the league with one of the best QBs.
For a full preview, check out UberHansen’s Game Matchups Preview.
Friday injury report: pic.twitter.com/L5WphSCIfT— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) October 7, 2022
#Steelers Cam Sutton and Terrell Edmunds are Questionable for this Sunday’s game against the Bills.— Emily Giangreco (@EmilyGiangreco) October 7, 2022
Ahkello Witherspoon is OUT.
Mason Cole was the only other player that was limited today. pic.twitter.com/o6xb2RYe4N
Last updated: 10/9/2022 6:30am
Kenny Pickett Interceptions
In ten games against Sean McDermott as HC of the Bills, opposing rookie QBs have 15 interceptions. The abilities of McDermott and Leslie Frazier to disguise coverages and confuse the defensive looks for an inexperienced QB reaching mythical status. Even without Hyde, Poyer, and White, schematically, the Bills have an advantage against the rookie with their long-term consistency in high-end defensive coaching.
If you’re somebody who thinks McDermott or Frazier should be fired every time an opponent completes a pass, then this prop isn’t for you.
The injuries up and down the Steelers’ defense should allow the Bills to build an early lead = increased passing from Pickett = a Taron Johnson pick.
Rookie quarterbacks against Sean McDermott's Bills...— Joe DiBiase (@SneakyJoeSports) October 4, 2022
57.1% comp, 165 yards/game, 5 TDs, 15 INTs, 3W-7L pic.twitter.com/Ti8lAhBK0m
Recommendation: -184 at CSR, 0.5u – this is still heavy vig, but this is as close to guaranteed as ever
Von Miller Sacks
The Steelers’ Tackles have performed better than expected for a much-maligned offensive line. Chukwuma Okorafor is seventh and Dan Moore is twenty-fifth amongst tackles in Pass Block Points Earned against 4 man rushes, which the Bills do the most in the league through 4 weeks at 89% or their pass rushes (SIS). But the Steelers also rank twenty-second in total pass attempts.
In the Jets, Brown, Patriots, and Bengals, they have not faced a DL with the talent ceiling and depth that the Bills line up, even if Ed Oliver is held out again. The Bills rank second in sack percentage, tied for second in total sacks, fourth in sacks/game, and sixth in pressure percentage. The biggest difference between years where fans would yell, “don’t tell me about pressures, they need sacks!” and this year, is Von Frickin Miller.
The game script calls for the Steelers to be playing from behind, and that means more passing for Pickett, leading to at least one INT like discussed above, and it gives Von Miller more chances for sacks.
Recommendation: -155 at DK, 0.5u. Consider Bills’ Total Team Sacks too. If it comes out at 3.5 or lower, take the over. Also, Rousseau is +130 for 0.75 sacks if you’re sensing a complete blowout.
Stefon Diggs Anytime TD
You’ve come to expect nuanced statistical analysis in this article, and that is the goal.
This analysis goes in another direction though and is less of the math kind and more of the “take care of your bros” kind. Despite the hackneyed, disingenuous warnings of Vikings’ fans, Diggs will not clamor for the ball despite only six targets in Week 4, but Josh Allen will take care of his boy. Besides the relationship between Allen and Diggs, Gabe Davis remains hobbled, Dawson Knox is out, Isaiah McKenzie is a question mark with a concussion, Crowder is out for the season, and the Steelers secondary is minus its best player. The Diggs-Allen connection is special. Look for Allen to intentionally rekindle it.
(Be ready for similar analysis the first time the Bills play the Jets because Sauce Gardner is going to be targeted for his off-season comments.)
Recommendation: Get your bet in at Caesars for plus money, 0.5u. The Steelers have injuries in the defensive backfield, and Josh owes Stef a best buddies TD.
You probably noticed that there aren’t any volume-based stat props for Bills’ players this week. That’s mostly because there is a fractional degree of uncertainty about how many Bills’ offensive players will play all 4 quarters. The game script will always be conservative, reasonable, and analysis based. The props will too. But there is a better than zero chance that the Bills get a large lead early, the defense overwhelms the rookie QB, and the Bills cruise. There is enough potential for that outcome that I won’t encourage you to risk your money on volume stats that need 60 minutes. This is the largest underdog point spread the Steelers have ever faced. That’s not an accident.
Tail or fade, let me see your winnings on Twitter at @LowBuffa!
Record: 8-4, +2 units