Welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, provides a game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, Fantasy Football impact, the most up-to-date injury report, and even the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Overall Record: 7-5
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (10th Season with Steelers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 99-57 (.635)
Playoff Record: 6-5 (Qualified for playoffs 6 times)
Last Game: Pittsburgh 24 NY Giants 14
Breakdown of the Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger found the endzone two more times last week and now has 25 touchdown passes in 2016. Big Ben has thrown for 3,034 yards and only eight interceptions. The offensive line has only given up 16 sacks.
Le’Veon Bell has been unstoppable the past two weeks. Bell has 817 yards rushing and three rushing TD’s. He has also racked up 63 receptions for 501 yards and another score.
Antonio Brown is tied with Larry Fitzgerald for the league lead in receptions with 88 catches. He has racked up 1,032 yards receiving and a league leading 11 touchdowns. Eli Rogers has been a solid slot receiver and is 3rd on the team with 30 receptions. Sammie Coates, Markus Wheaton, and Darrius Heyward-Bey have all been battling injuries for well over a month, and none of the three have a reception since October 23rd. Cobi Hamilton has done his best in picking up the slack in their absence. Jesse James remains a part of the Steelers passing game, but Ladarius Green is finally emerging as the weapon he was signed to be in the off-season. Last week he had his coming out party racking up six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Javon Hargrave, who has stepped in nicely for the injured Cam Heyward, has been listed as doubtful with a concussion. L.T. Walton will step in with Hargrave out. Veteran Ricardo Mathews would be the next end in line, with No. 2 nose tackle Dan McCullers and Walton rotating in alongside the opposing starting defensive end in Stephon Tuitt.
The defense has come together the past three weeks thanks to the contributions from it’s younger players. Artie Burns is becoming quite a playmaker at corner and safety Sean Davis is beginning to display the accolades praised upon him by Mike Tomlin early in Training Camp.
Kicker Chris Boswell, who missed last week’s game with an abdominal injury, is expected to play. Guard Ramon Foster did not practice at all this week due to taking a helmet to the chest last Sunday. First-year lineman B.J. Finney confirmed he took first-team reps at left guard all week and would be in line to make his second career start if Foster is not cleared to go.
A look at the Buffalo Bills!
Overall Record: 6-6
Head Coach: Rex Ryan (2nd Season with Bills)
Overall Regular Season Record: 60-64 (.484) | 14-14 with Bills
Playoff Record: 4-2 (Qualified for playoffs 2 times)
Last Game: Oakland 38 Buffalo 24
Breakdown of the Bills: Tyrod Taylor leads the Buffalo offense at quarterback. Taylor is more of a threat with his legs than his arm, as he has racked up 469 yards rushing with six scores. For the season, Taylor has 2,292 yards passing with 11 TD passes and five interceptions. He has been sacked 34 times.
LeSean McCoy is the Bills main weapon. The versatile back has gained 949 yards rushing so far with nine rushing TDs. A dual threat, he also has 35 receptions for 236 yards and one touchdown. Mike Gillislee is McCoy’s back-up and has added 375 yards with six of his runs finding pay-dirt. McCoy, Gillislee, and Taylor all average 5.5 yards per rush or better. The trio has combined for 21 out of the 23 rushing touchdowns they have scored in 2016.
Robert Woods is the Bills #1 receiver in the stats book but has been out the past two weeks. Marquise Goodwin and Sammy Watkins have been the starters the past two weeks. Watkins has been out for most of the year with injuries but has six receptions for 118 yards since his return. Justin Hunter has just eight catches for the season, but four of them have ended up in the endzone. Charles Clay is Taylor’s 2nd favorite target as the Bills tight end. Clay has 36 grabs for 323 yards, but no touchdowns.
Game Preview: The winter winds have arrived for teams inhabiting the northeast, and that marks the time where the best teams start separating themselves from the rest of the pack.
“It’s December football,” Le’Veon Bell said. “We understand everybody is fighting for position. We just want to get the job done. That’s all there is to it.”
For the Steelers to achieve their goal of winning the AFC North title, they must find a way to start playing better on the road.
“We always want to worry about what’s going on in the stadium we’re in,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We don’t want to have to look around. We’ve done that in years past. For us to just have to go out and take care of our own business is good for us.”
Winners of their last two games, Buffalo’s chances to make the playoffs will likely be shattered with another loss.
“This experience right here could be the start of something new,” Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “That’s what we’re trying to do and trying to establish. Take seize of it right now, this opportunity that we have. If we can do that, things start to turn around.”
The Bills passing offense is dead last in the NFL. Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor is more of a threat on the ground than he is through the air. Part of Taylor’s problems has been the never-ending injuries to the Bills receiving corps. Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, and tight end Charles Clay have all missed significant portions of the season.
The Bills will look to take down the Steelers through the legs of Taylor and LeSean McCoy. If they set up the run, it may open the passing lanes for Taylor to find Watkins and Woods (if he plays). The Bills are No. 1 in the NFL in rushing (161.9 yards per game).
If the Steelers limit the turnovers, they should be able to control this game from start to finish. The Steeler offense is built to beat you multiple ways, and if the weather limits the passing game in any way, Pittsburgh isn’t shy about handing Bell the ball and letting him carry the team on his back.
Bell, a Central Ohio native, knows what it takes to thrive along the Rust Belt this time of year.
“I played high school football in this weather,” he said. “I was born into this.”
The Steelers averaged 34 points a game in their first four wins, but haven’t scored more than 28 in their past three victories. It hasn’t helped that either Sammie Coates, Markus Wheaton, and Darrius Heyward-Bey haven’t registered a catch since October 23rd.
Little by little, the offense is getting healthier by the week. Tight end Ladarius Green will be a major factor in this offense going forward.
Expect the Steelers to establish the running game behind Bell, thus setting up Roethlisberger to find some favorable passing opportunities to Antonio Brown, Green, and Bell out of the backfield. Eli Rogers should find plenty of open lanes in the slot, so he may be primed to have a big game.
With a win this Sunday, the Steelers could be back in sole possession of first place by the end of Monday night, as the Ravens face the Patriots.
“The goal is to continue to get hot, continue to get better,” said Brown. “Treat every matchup like it’s our last matchup and produce wins. We want to finish strong. We know what is expected of us and we want to finish strong and get better. We have to continue to get better. This is our biggest time right here in front of us.”
Prediction: Steelers 31 Bills 20
Fantasy Football Impact
Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, TE Ladarius Green
Sit: WR Eli Rogers
Sleeper: Steelers D
The trio of Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell should never leave your starting line-up. Ladarius Green, as mentioned last week, is ready to be in your starting line-up. The Steelers Defense has played very well the past three weeks.
Start: RB LeSean McCoy
Sit: QB Tyrod Taylor
Sleeper: WR Sammy Watkins
LeSean McCoy will get his yards via the ground and air. I wouldn’t expect much help from Tyrod Taylor. Sammy Watkins will get some late-game yardage as the Bills play catch-up.
NFL Week 14
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (6-6)
Venue: New Era Field, Orchard Park, NY.
Game Time: Sunday, December 11th, 1:00 pm
TV: CBS | Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play) Phil Simms (analyst) | Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: N/A | Announcers: N/A
Weather at Kickoff: 28 with a 70% chance of snow. Snow accumulating 1-3 inches. Winds 9 mph.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -3
- Series History: Series began in 1970
- The Steelers are 13-8 in the overall Regular Season series against the Bills.
- Steelers are 5-7 against the Bills in Buffalo.
- Streak: Steelers won previous five meetings.
- Last Regular-Season Meeting: Nov. 10, 2013, in Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh 23 Buffalo 10
- Steelers are 2-1 in the Post-Season vs the Bills.
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 6, 1996, in Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh 40 Buffalo 21 – AFC Divisional
- Bills RB LeSean McCoy is a native of Harrisburg, Pa. and played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh (2007-08).
- Bills STC Danny Crossman was a three-year letterman at the University of Pittsburgh.
- A win would improve Mike Tomlin to 100-57 during the regular season (43-36 on the road) and have him join Chuck Noll (193) and Bill Cowher (149) as the third head coach in team history with at least 100 wins in the regular season.
- Ben Roethlisberger with a win, would improve to 4-0 vs. Buffalo in the regular season and to 2-0 on the road at the Bills
- Roethlisberger is three touchdown passes from tying John Elway for the ninth most in NFL history (300).
- Antonio Brown needs two catches to mark his fourth straight season with at least 90 receptions.
- Brown needs two touchdown catches to tie Lynn Swann (51) for the third-most touchdown grabs in team history.
- Le’Veon Bell aims for his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game on Sunday and his fifth in a row with 100 yards from scrimmage.
- Bell will move into a tie with Rocky Bleier (23) for the 10th most rushing touchdowns in team history with his next rushing score and is two rushing touchdowns from matching Willie Parker (24) for ninth.
- James Harrison is .5 sacks from 80.0 in his career with the Steelers.
QB- Ben Roethlisberger (3,034 yards passing | 25 TD passes | 8 interceptions | 16 sacks)
RB- Le’Veon Bell (817 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 63 receptions | 501 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Antonio Brown (88 receptions | 1,052 receiving yards | 11 receiving TD’s)
WR- Eli Rogers (30 receptions | 354 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Sammie Coates (20 receptions | 425 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Cobi Hamilton (11 receptions | 138 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
TE- Jesse James (32 receptions | 268 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
TE- Ladarius Green (11 receptions | 207 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
K- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 26-26 | FG: 12-16 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-2 | 30-39: 4-5 | 40-49: 6-7 | 50+: 0-2 | Long: 49
K- Randy Bullock (Extra Point: 1-1 | FG: 2-2 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-2 | 30-39: 1-1 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 44
QB- Tyrod Taylor (2,292 yards passing | 11 TD passes | 5 interceptions | 34 sacks | 469 yards rushing | 6 rushing TD’s)
RB- LeSean McCoy (949 yards rushing | 9 rushing TD’s | 35 receptions | 236 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
RB- Mike Gillislee (375 yards rushing | 6 rushing TD’s | 8 receptions | 40 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Robert Woods (42 receptions | 493 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Marquise Goodwin (24 receptions | 364 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
WR- Sammy Watkins (12 receptions | 181 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Justin Hunter (8 receptions | 109 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s)
TE- Charles Clay (36 receptions | 323 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Dan Carpenter (Extra Point: 30-33 | FG: 15-19 | 0-19: 1-1 | 20-29: 6-6 | 30-39: 3-3 | 40-49: 4-7 | 50+: 1-2 | Long: 54
Team Rankings through Week 13
Total Offense: Steelers average 364.8 YPG | Bills average 335.9 YPG
Rushing: Steelers average 100.9 YPG | Bills average 79.5 YPG
Passing: Steelers average 263.9 YPG | Bills average 256.5 YPG
Scoring: Steelers average 24.2 PPG | Bills average 21.0 PPG
Total Defense: Steelers allow 358.7 YPG | Bills allow 353.8 YPG
Rushing: Steelers allow 95.3 YPG | Bills allow 89.1 YPG
Passing: Steelers allow 263.5 YPG | Bills allow 264.7 YPG
Scoring: Steelers allow 20.2 PPG | Bills allow 19.4 PPG
Injury Report (12/10/2016)
Out: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot), S Shamarko Thomas (concussion), G Ramon Foster (chest), RB DeAngelo Williams (knee), DT Javon Hargrave (concussion)
Questionable: K Chris Boswell (abdomen),
Out: LB Lerentee McCray (concussion)
Questionable: TE Charles Clay (knee), T Cordy Glenn (back), WR Sammy Watkins (foot), DT Kyle Williams (back), WR Robert Woods (knee)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 Schedule
Friday, Aug. 12 DETROIT L, 30-17
Thursday, Aug. 18 PHILADELPHIA L, 17-0
Friday, Aug. 26 @ New Orleans W, 27-14
Thursday, Sept. 1 @ Carolina L, 18-6
Regular Season (7-5)
Monday, Sept. 12 @ Washington W, 38-16
Sunday, Sept. 18 CINCINNATI W, 24-16
Sunday, Sept. 25 @ Philadelphia L, 34-3
Sunday, Oct. 2 KANSAS CITY W, 43-14
Sunday, Oct. 9 NEW YORK JETS* W, 31-13
Sunday, Oct. 16 @ Miami* 1 p.m. L, 30-15
Sunday, Oct. 23 NEW ENGLAND* L, 16-27
Sunday, Oct. 30 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 6 @ Baltimore* L, 14-21
Sunday, Nov. 13 DALLAS* L, 30-35
Sunday, Nov. 20 @ Cleveland* W, 24-9
Thursday, Nov. 24 @ Indianapolis W, 28-7
Sunday, Dec. 4 NEW YORK GIANTS* W, 24-14
Sunday, Dec. 11 @ Buffalo* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 18 @ Cincinnati* 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 25 BALTIMORE 4:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Sunday, Jan. 1 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 7-8 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 14-15 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 22 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 29 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 5 Super Bowl LI (Houston, Texas)