Buffalo at Pittsburgh
Time: 7:20 PM CST, NBC
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 8-5 this season and currently in second place in the AFC North. It trails Baltimore by 3.5 games and enters this matchup as winners of its last three games. The Buffalo Bills visit in a game with a point spread set EVEN, and the over/under set at 37 total points according to NFL oddsmakers from bookmaker 5dimes.
Pittsburgh has won its last three and seven of its last eight overall, with the lone loss having come 7-21 to the Cleveland Browns four weeks ago. Since that point, it has outscored its opponents by at least six points in all three victories. Pittsburgh’s defense has done its job, limiting opponents to just 18.6 points per game, which with an offense generating 19.9, gives the Steelers a +1.1 point differential.
The Steelers are not a potent offensive team. It ranks third-to-last in passing yardage at 195.5 yards per game, while also possessing a bottom-10 rush offense that manages just 94.6 per game. The defense is what has made for a plus-.500 record.
Mason Rudolph has certainly had his struggles learning the quarterback position. He is passable, at this point, at best. Rudolph has a 61.6 percent completion ratio, but he averages just 6.2 yards-per-reception and he has thrown nine interceptions to just 12 touchdowns. Rudolph has a below-standard passer rating of 80.3.
Devlin Hodges has started the last four games and been a bit more effective, but still possessive of some bad mistakes. He threw 16 of 19 (84.2 percent) against the Cardinals, recording a touchdown, but he did incur three sacks. He has thrown an interception in two of the last four games, but he also has posted a passer rating 115 or higher in two of the past four. While consistency may remain somewhat elusive, he has shown some very bright and positive signs.
James Connor is the player that does the heavy lifting offensively. A multi-talented running back, Connor has rushed 102 times this season for 390 yards and four touchdowns. As a receiver, he has caught 30 of 33 targeted passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps the only negative with Connor has been his 3.8 yard-per-rush average. He has fumbled just once this season (for loss of possession).
Former Kentucky Wildcat Benny Snell Jr has been solid but not really dominant. The rookie has rushed 81 times for 320 yards and he betters Connor’s per-carry average at 4.0. He has scored just one touchdown but has added 15 first downs which are No. 2 to Connor (21). Quarterback/running back Jaylen Samuels is an interesting weapon, though he averages just 2.8 yards-per-carry on his 61 attempts. Samuels has thrown five passes, completing four, including an intention, as the incompletion though.
James Washington, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Diontae Johnson have all caught for 480 yards or more this season, and the trio has 10 touchdowns combined. Johnson has fumbled twice, and Washington and Smith-Schuster have both fumbled as well. Turnovers have cost the Steelers a lot of games this season. Samuels has also caught a fourth-best 252 yards on 41 catches including a touchdown. The Steelers do a good job of keeping their backfield involved in most possessions, but even with good talents at the skill position, the loss of Ben Roethlisberger has made this season something of an unexpected challenge.
The Buffalo Bills are 9-4 and 5-1 on the road this season as it takes on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Buffalo is in second place in the AFC East, trailing the New England Patriots by one game for the Division lead. It will face New England next week, and with a win this week and an underdog triumph next week, the Bills would be assured of at worst being tied with New England in the standings.
Buffalo has two very strong points to its attack: Its No. 5 rated rush offense, which creates 135.3 yards per game, and its overall very staunch defense. The Bills limit teams to just 16.3 points per game, which allows for its 21.1 points to easily cover the work put in by its defensive unit, and indeed have a positive differential of 4.8 points.
The Bills seemingly have struck gold with Josh Allen. Though the rush has been more featured this season, Allen has made some great strides in his 13 games. He has a 59.8 percent pass completion percentage, which will need to be improved, but he has also amassed 2,737 yards with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The 33 sacks (2.26 per game) is also something that should ideally be cut down a little bit, too, but he has helped guide the offense and provide good enough passing that the backfield can really shine when the ball is handed off.
Devin Singletary leads the team in yardage at 642 and also leads in yards-per-carry at 5.6, while he is tied for second in touchdowns with two. Allen actually holds the team-lead for rushing touchdowns with eight, and he has rushed for 439 yards on 95 carries while creating a team-high 35 first downs.
Veteran Frank Gore has been steady but unspectacular, averaging just 3.7 yards-per-carry, but he has two touchdowns and 28 first downs, while also holding the team-lead for attempts (150). At wide receiver, the leader of the unit has been John Brown. His 64 catches and 908 yards lead the team, and he is No. 2 in touchdowns with five. No. 2 wideout Cole Beasley has caught 664 yards and has six touchdowns, the best.
Singletary, TJ Yeldon, and Gore are all involved as receivers out of the backfield with 46 catches as a trio for over 370 yards. Singletary has scored three receiving touchdowns, and Yeldon added one. Stephen Hauschka has hit 18 of 24 field goals including a long kick of 51-yards. Four of his six misses have come from beyond mid-field, and he has just missed one from inside the 40-yard mark.