Steelers vs Bills Pick: NFL Wild Card Matchup Preview

Steelers vs Bills Pick: NFL Wild Card Matchup Preview article feature image

Action Network/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Tomlin (left) and Sean McDermott (right).

Steelers vs Bills Pick: NFL Wild Card Matchup Preview

Sunday, Jan 14
1:00pm ET
Steelers Odds
-110o / -110u
Bills Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Steelers Preview

If this Steelers offense wants to stand a fighting chance in Buffalo, it will need to be able to run the ball effectively.

The Bills have struggled to stop the run for the bulk of the season. Buffalo ranks 29th in PFF rushing grade and 24th in EPA per rush allowed.

Over the last few weeks, the Steelers' rushing attack has really started to improve. They rank 10th in rushing success rate and 12th in EPA per rush on the season. Since Week 10, the Steelers are even better, ranking ninth and sixth in those two categories, respectively.

After not eclipsing 100 yards or 20-plus carries all season, Najee Harris has hit those marks in each of the last two weeks, combining for 53 carries for 234 yards and three touchdowns.

Jaylen Warren also provides his own explosive element to this backfield that Pittsburgh could potentially take advantage of, as the Bills' run defense is susceptible to allowing big plays.

Pittsburgh will need to keep this game close to utilize this advantage, but Buffalo's rushing defense has struggled at times this year and the Steelers have the personnel to capitalize.

Bills Preview

Pittsburgh may have survived the storm in Baltimore last weekend to punch its ticket to the playoffs, but star defender T.J. Watt went down with a knee injury and will miss this wild-card matchup.

Watt led the league in sacks once again this season with 19. He ranked fourth in ESPN's pass rush win rate metric and fourth among edge rushers in PFF pass rushing grade. Watt is the only Steelers player rated highly in PFF's pass rushing productivity metric, with Alex Highsmith ranked at 45th and no other player on the team close to touching that.

When operating in a clean pocket, Josh Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in football. He ranks first in the league in PFF grade when kept clean, which will be the likely case against this Watt-less Pittsburgh defense.

We just saw a very similar scenario when the Bills took on the Dolphins in Week 18. Allen went 22-for-24 passing when kept clean (91.7% completion rate) with 263 yards and two touchdowns. Under pressure, he was 8-of-14 for 96 yards and two interceptions.

Without Watt, the Pittsburgh pass rush will be severely compromised. As evidenced by the Dolphins, it's hard to generate pressure on a quarterback like Allen with injuries to key players.

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Steelers vs. Bills Pick

Allen is the heart and soul of this Buffalo team. Pittsburgh lost its own heart and soul this week, which will give Allen time to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball where it needs to go while avoiding the big mistakes he had last week.

Props aren't out yet, but I will be looking to target Allen's passing yards prop against a weakened Pittsburgh defense, as he will be vital in the Bills' playoff run.

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