Bills vs. Steelers: Game plans will be obvious for both teams

Tom Szczerbowski

Buffalo likes to run the ball, Pittsburgh isn't showing much ability to stop the run. The Steelers can stop rookie passers, and it appears rookie E.J. Manuel will return for Buffalo.

Buffalo has a running game, but the quarterback position is unsettled.

Pittsburgh can't stop the run, but they have beaten up rookie quarterbacks over the last nine years.

Odds seem good Buffalo's game plan fits right into Pittsburgh's weakness. But if the Steelers can stop the run, they can get to the point they aim for each game - making their opponent one-dimensional on offense.

A game that will likely have the Steelers returning more to their base package than any other game this season, the key will be Pittsburgh's defensive line of nose tackle Steve McLendon and defensive ends Brett Keisel and Cameron Heyward holding the line of scrimmage, and sound discipline must be maintained by rookie linebacker Vince Williams - if he is able to play (concussion).

Buffalo's running game, powered by Fred Jackson (502 yards) and C.J. Spiller (478 yards), will be the most versatile the Steelers have faced this season. It could be the best, as well. Not good news, considering the Steelers are coming off a scorching on the ground from the New England Patriots (197 yards) and are allowing over 130 yards a game - second-to-worst in the NFL.

Expect the Steelers to run-blitz extensively, and force rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel - who is coming off a knee injury that's sidelined him since Week 5 - to complete passes consistently.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is 16-2 against rookie quarterbacks, and very few have performed well, win or lose.

It doesn't seem like strategy will be particularly hard to figure out. Execution, though, is a bit harder to predict, as it has been for both teams all season. Buffalo and Pittsburgh have a combined five wins this year.

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