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The first test of the year for the Buffalo Bills comes against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams enter the season with high expectations. However, the two franchises are headed in very different directions.
The Steelers are holding onto dear life with their aging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hoping to coax another postseason run out of his 39-year old arm. Whereas in Buffalo, at 25 years old, Josh Allen has yet to reach his peak and is still after his first Super Bowl ring. Big Ben had two by the time he was 27. Allen can still get there. A three-time MVP sees Allen as a winner.
Buffalo Bills Week 1 game details, where to watch
- Sunday, September 12, 2021
- Start time: 1:00 PM ET
- TV channel - CBS
- Location - Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY
What happened last time the Bills played the Steelers?
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Last season in Week 14 on Sunday Night Football, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster thought it was a good idea to dance at midfield on the Bills logo. Some players noticed and didn’t take too kindly to Smith-Schuster’s actions. But the Bills got the last laugh by winning the game.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster stats: 6 catches for 55 yards and a TD
- Pittsburgh Steelers points: 15
- Buffalo Bills points: 26
With the win, the Bills rolled to 10-3, and the Steelers moved to 11-2, losing their first away game of the year. Pittsburgh has since changed offensive coordinators but has largely remained the same team as a year ago.
Matchups to watch
- Josh Allen vs. Steelers secondary
Led by Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers have a decent but not great secondary. Trading for Ahkello Witherspoon should make them a bit better. Since acquiring Fitzpatrick in 2019, no defense has allowed fewer completions on passes 20+ yards downfield. The Steelers also have Terrell Edmunds, the brother of Bills’ linebacker Tremaine Edmunds starting at strong safety.
The Steelers may have a solid secondary, but Josh Allen and the Bills’ receivers are better. Pittsburgh doesn’t have anyone who can run with Stefon Diggs, not that anyone can cover him 1-on-1 anyway. Even if Fitzpatrick keeps a close watch on Diggs, other receivers will get open. The Bills have too many weapons to contain.
- Bills OL vs. Steelers front seven
One group that could lose their position battle is the Buffalo offensive line against the Steelers’ defensive line in the trenches. No, this isn’t the Steel Curtain, but the current front seven is among the league’s best.
Individually, Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Melvin Ingram can all wreak havoc. With three game-wreckers to deal with, the Bills won’t be able to double-team any of them consistently. This game will be an excellent test for how well the Bills’ OL can hold up against the elite pass-rushes in the NFL.
- Bills DL vs. Steelers’ right tackle
While the Bills could have their issues up front, the Steelers’ offensive line is in shambles. The Steelers have replaced all but one of their starting offensive linemen from last season. Meaning they could take some time to jell. Most don’t expect the Steelers OL group to be very good after losing three Pro Bowl players.
© Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
The Bills should be able to feast upon the misfortunes of the Steelers O-line. Maybe we’ll even get to see Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham have some early success.
- Bills LBs vs. Najee Harris
Rookies are always a mystery until they get on the field. But it appears Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris is the real deal. One of the biggest downfalls of the Pittsburgh offense a year ago was not having an efficient ground game. Despite a weaker offensive line, Harris should be able to bring smashmouth football back to Steel City.
Buffalo hopes to get better play out of their linebackers and their defensive line this season. Not giving any ground up to Harris could throw the Steelers off their game. They know the Bills have one of the better secondaries in the NFL, so the game plan could run through Harris. We’ll see if the rookie’s ready for the Bills Rumbling Herd.
Buffalo Bills Week 1 game prediction
- Last season’s record: Buffalo Bills 13-3, reached AFC Conference Championship game
- Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4, reached Wild Card game
As it is for each team around the league, Week 1 is a big game. When Super Bowl aspirations are in the back of everyone’s mind, nobody wants to start their season 0-1. However, one of these two playoff teams from a year ago will ultimately begin their year with a loss.
The Steelers have a lot of question marks. Is their offensive line capable of protecting 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger? Can the OL create holes for Najee Harris and the running game? Is Big Ben still an above-average QB capable of leading a team to the playoffs on the back of a strong defense?
Josh Allen and the Bills need to prove that last year was no anomaly, and it was a sign of things to come. Retaining a lot of the roster from a year ago, the Bills should theoretically run it back with more success.
Another year in the system should make the Bills even better offensively, and the defense has a lot of young pieces capable of taking the next step in their development. Strong on both sides of the ball, the Bills can win a hard-fought battle at home. By taking advantage of the Steelers’ weaknesses on their offensive line and having an explosive offense few can slow down, look for the Bills to win.
Game prediction: 27-16 Bills victory
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