(KDKA)- Despite a plethora of injuries, Mike Tomlin has the Pittsburgh Steelers on the cusp of a playoff berth. But, their spot is far from locked up just yet. With three games remaining, the Steelers are just ahead of the Tennessee Titans for the final Wild Card spot.
Their schedule does them no favors either. This week, the Steelers welcome fellow Wild Card contender, the Buffalo Bills, to Heinz Field for a prime-time matchup on Sunday Night Football. The Bills, at 9-4, still have a chance at winning their division if they can catch the Patriots. But, more immediately, they can clinch a playoff spot with a win this week. Sean McDermott’s squad has mostly won on the back of their strong defense, rating as the league’s third-best unit against the pass. But, they have shown some vulnerability at times this season against the run.
That would seem to play to the Steelers strengths. While Devlin Hodges has filled in capably at the quarterback spot, if James Conner is healthy, the team is likely to be run first. Particularly against this defense.
On the flip side, the Steelers must find a way to stop Bills quarterback Josh Allen from impacting the game on the ground. Allen is a punishing runner and capable of picking up the back-breaking first downs that extend drives with his legs. If they can bottle up Allen’s run game, similar to how the Ravens did last week, the matchup is much more favorable. Despite an improved completion percentage, Allen is still completing under 60 percent of his passes. Last week against Baltimore he completed just 17 of 39 attempts for 146 yards.
To weigh in on the matchup, we checked in with CBS Dallas sports anchor Keith Russell. Russell is familiar with this Bills team as they walked into Dallas and beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving just two weeks ago. He thinks the chance for Buffalo to clinch a playoff spot and playing in the spotlight of Sunday Night Football will lead to a victory for Buffalo.
“I’m rolling with some Buffalo wings. You know why? Because Buffalo is a really good team. They showed us when they came to AT&T Stadium and put away the Cowboys,” said Russell. “They hung with the Baltimore Ravens and the Ravens are the best team in football right now. Buffalo hung with the Ravens just last Sunday, they could have won that game. Buffalo wins against Pittsburgh, they clinch a spot in the postseason for the second time in three years. They’ll be playing on Sunday Night Football for the first time in 12 seasons. This is the ultimate proving ground. Buffalo comes out on top.”
The oddsmakers appear to disagree, with the Steelers currently two point favorites. Kickoff is set for Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. EST.