The Pittsburgh Steelers have a tough road ahead of them in Week 1 of the 2021 regular season when they travel to Orchard Park, NY to play the Buffalo Bills. The Bills, by many accounts, are considered a Super Bowl contender, meanwhile the Steelers are on the opposite end of the spectrum. After starting the 2020 season 11-0, Pittsburgh stumbled their way to a 12-4 record and a deflating loss to the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs.
Fast forward to the preparation for Week 1, and the Steelers face a team with a very dynamic offense. But let’s not pretend as if the Bills’ offense isn’t perfect. Every unit has their weaknesses. This week I was able to ask Corey Giocovelli of Buffalo Rumblings several questions leading up to the Week 1 matchup. One of those questions was where he thought the weakness on the Buffalo offense resided.
Here was his answer:
“I would have to say the running game as a whole. Last season, the rushing attack for the Bills was awful, ranking 24th in the league with just over a hundred yards per game. Most of that yardage can be attributed to the scrambling abilities of Josh Allen. The lack of a running game has made the offense one dimensional last season and allowed defenses to game plan easier because there was no need to fear the rush. Now, Devin Singletary is entering his third year in the league and has been putting in a lot of effort in the offseason. After a productive preseason on limited carries, look for him to try and make an impact on Sunday to take some of the pressure off the passing game.”
Sounds a lot like the Steelers’ offense heading into this new season. After struggling to run the ball, they often became one-dimensional to move the ball. The biggest difference between Buffalo and Pittsburgh is Josh Allen is more than capable of running the ball, while Ben Roethlisberger’s days of scrambling around are a thing of the past.
A follow up question I had for Giocovelli was how the Bills will plan on attacking the stout Steelers defense in 2021. According to Giocovelli, the approach will resemble what Buffalo did when they beat the Steelers at home last season.
“Feed the ball to Stefon Diggs as much as possible. Diggs was the difference last season catching 10 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Whenever Josh Allen needed him most, Diggs was on the opposite end of a catch and giving momentum to the offense. It was only a two-point game at halftime last season. When the Bills came out for the first drive of the second half, Diggs had four catches on eight plays, including the touchdown that swung the momentum. Up front, a lot of what the offensive line tries to do will depend on the status/readiness of T.J. Watt.”
No one who watched the Bills last season would suggest the Steelers’ defense will have their way with the Buffalo offense. However, the Steelers were banged up last season when they traveled to Buffalo, and look to have a clean bill of health to start the season. On top of that, T.J. Watt’s new contract should have him more than motivated to prove the organization did the right thing and gave him that new 5-year deal.
Either way, this matchup, the Bills’ offense vs. the Steelers’ defense, is the one to watch on Sunday. Whoever wins this battle will likely win the game.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming AFC matchup with the Bills.