Three things on my mind as Bills fans endure the long wait for a Sunday Night extravaganza in Pittsburgh…
The Great Wall Of Josh Allen
The Bills allowed six sacks last week. They’ve allowed ten in the last two weeks. The Steelers have the most sacks in the NFL. Houston, we have a problem.
There is some concern that the Ravens blitzing scheme becomes the blueprint to rattle Josh Allen. The Bills pointed out this week that they’ve also watched the film and believe they can make the proper adjustments. Allen summed it up nicely. “We won’t know (if we did) until we go out and prove it on the field.”
The Steelers do blitz, but the difference this week is they don’t have to blitz. TJ Watt, Cam Heyward and Bud Dupree are all among the top 25 in NFL sacks. Only the Niners also have three players in the top 25. Pittsburgh can do plenty of damage with just their front four.
Big plays is this defense’s calling card. They are number one in sacks and turnovers forced. That’s how Pittsburgh must win because…
The offense hasn’t been so good this year without Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster (shocker). All three have spent extended time on the sideline with injuries. Conner will return to face the Bills.
Devlin “Duck” Hodges has stepped in and, essentially, led the Steelers to four consecutive wins (he didn’t start the second game and doesn’t get credit for the “win”, but did more good stuff that day than starter Mason Rudolph). He can execute the offense, make accurate throws and get the ball out on time, but doesn’t have the arm strength or physical abilities to really be a danger.
Pittsburgh’s offense is bad at everything. They’re dead last in red zone efficiency (12 TDs in the red zone all year!) and in the bottom quarter of the NFL in almost all other categories. It’s hard to imagine that changing much against the white hot Bills defense.
Edmunds Family Values
All the silly playoff implication stuff is getting in the way of the real story: three brothers on the field at the same time. Not really, but doing something in the NFL that hasn’t been done since 1927 is still pretty cool.
Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds will be facing Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds (#34) and fullback Trey Edmunds (#33). There’s an excellent chance Tremaine and Trey go head to head because that’s what fullbacks and linebackers do. Imagine all the times you and a sibling roughhoused in the family room playing out on national TV in an NFL game. The Edmunds will get to live that.
All three brothers have handled the story perfectly this week. They love the fun and uniqueness of it. They value what it means to the family. They still promise to do their jobs on the field without hesitation. They expect to laugh and hug about it afterward with the 30 plus family members at the game (you’ll probably see mom and dad on the broadcast about a hundred times).
No matter which side you root for, it’s hard not to smile thinking about this tonight.
I think limiting mental mistakes is a huge key for the Bills. The Steelers formula has been forcing you into a mistake and then feasting on it. If they win, the discussion postgame will likely start with “short fields” and “things we can’t do”.
The Bills defense has risen to another level over the past month and, barring some crazy regression, I can’t see how the Duck scores more than 10 points on legit (non-short field) offense.
That leaves the Bills in a rare predicament: having the best quarterback in a huge game and hoping he simply plays like it. Allen doesn’t need 300 yards and three touchdowns. The typical 200 combined yards and 17 points will do just fine, if it comes without multiple turnovers. I think 20 points wins easily and 20 points combined might take quite a while. Give me the Bills to punch their playoff ticket 16-6.