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Steelers vs. Bills Week 5 Preview: BTSC’s Q&A with Buffalo Rumblings

Preparing for the Steelers and Bills Week 5 showdown, I asked Buffalo Rumblings some burning questions leading up to the AFC showdown.

Buffalo Bills vs Pittsbiutgh Steelers Set Number: X163789 TK1

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their 2022 regular season Week 5 game with a trip to Buffalo, NY to play the Bills. A tough task for the Steelers who have lost three straight games.

With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask Matthew Byham of Buffalo Rumblings, SB Nation’s Buffalo Bills website, five questions leading up to the game.

Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.

Josh Allen is a unique beast with his mobility and big arm, but the Bills’ offense has been had their share of lulls this season. What are some of the weaknesses, or concerns, within the unit this season?

We talk a lot about injuries these days, so I’ll refrain from assigning them further blame. Honestly, I wouldn’t label the Bills’ offense as hit or miss in the traditional sense of the idea. Their passing attack is almost unstoppable, save for the occasional play Allen tries to make where talent overrides his vastly improved mechanics. We saw unstoppable against the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. We saw when mechanics broke down during a couple plays against the Miami Dolphins—but they were still somehow in that game until the very last play. Allen is a tenacious learner, and his play reflects his ability to learn and adapt. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is virtually automatic catching the football.

But to the point I think you’re asking about—an Achilles heel for Buffalo may just be their inability to run block and the lack of a bruising running back. This offense is built to throw the ball, and it concerns me insomuch as the weather gets colder and game situations require smash-mouth football. It appears offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey realizes how to negate some of these limitations, utilizing running back Devin Singletary more in the short passing game, allowing his dynamic ability in space to take over a play. Time will tell if this method is both enough to keep Cover-2 shells playing honest, and allow the Bills to take advantage of blitzes and man coverage.

Von Miller was a great addition to the defense, but Buffalo has had to win some games in a variety of ways. What are the areas of the defense which the Steelers could exploit?

I think the Bills struggle to match up well against physicality due to the nature of their defensive scheme. You saw it in the first half of Week 4 against your rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. Buffalo was manhandled, flustered, and operating at a frenzied pace. I think back to the 90s when Bills-Steelers games were some of the most physical contests. Still, I do think health will be paramount to the Bills’ success on defense—even though on-field experience has been tremendous for their depth.

What is the injury status for the Bills entering Week 5? Their receiving corps has been dealt some big injuries, but are there any other players to note who are banged up?

I said I wouldn’t talk about injuries, but since you asked and they’re key to this question… Injuries have been one of the main stories surrounding this team a month into the 2022 NFL season. I’d argue they played one of the biggest roles in the team’s Week 3 loss against the Miami Dolphins. The Bills were forced to start two very green safeties (one a practice-squad call up) and a pair of rookie cornerbacks (Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford) in South Beach. But miraculously, they held up well for most of the game. I’d say extremely well the entire game except when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took advantage of inexperience by using wide receiver Jaylen Waddle on their game-turning touchdown drive.

Buffalo’s defensive line is extremely banged up, and that’s not ideal for a team that likes to rotate players as much as the Bills. Defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips have been injured for weeks but are finally listed as limited in practice so far this week. But wait, there’s more. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is now nursing a hamstring injury and was a nonparticipant in Wednesday’s practice. That presents a challenge if having to replace such a unique talent in Edmunds—especially when the team primarily operates with two linebackers. Oh, the secondary is dealing with a lot of adversity as well. Safety Micah Hyde is now out for the season, cornerback Tre’Davious White still isn’t back practicing from his ACL injury sustained last Thanksgiving. Rookie cornerback Christian Benford (a remarkable story as a sixth-round pick out of Villanova) just had surgery on his broken hand, and the other half of Buffalo’s dynamic safety tandem, Jordan Poyer is dealing with an injury and not practicing as of Wednesday.

When it comes to the Steelers quarterback situation, I’m sure Bills fans couldn’t care less about it, but was there a vibe of whether fans wanted to see Trubisky over Pickett one way or another?

I think Bills fans, by and large, absolutely were rooting for Mitch Trubisky. He’s a good dude. He’s someone with much to prove after what seemed like a mistake by the Chicago Bears in drafting him. I still don’t know that he isn’t a starter in this league, but it appears he isn’t the answer in Pittsburgh. But was he ever really the answer or just a bridge? I’d love to see him succeed, so long as it’s not at the expense of a significant loss to Buffalo. But it is concerning how hesitant Trubisky’s play appeared before his benching. You’ll always have a divided group of fans no matter the discussion. Some are huge college football fans who just want to see how the rookies fare, while others are convinced high draft picks are selected where they are for a reason and just need the right coaching. But it’s hard to argue that Mike Tomlin and his crew are the wrong coaches, as much as we heard a few weeks back that Canada wasn’t quite as fondly regarded as our northern neighbors.

The Bills are 14-point favorites, as of this being written, and it is a huge number for the proud Pittsburgh franchise. I don’t think many people would be finding the Steelers on the moneyline, but do you think the Bills will dominate to win AND cover? How do you see this game shaking out?

The only team since the AFL/NFL merger to have never been a 14-point dog prior to this line. Simply incredible. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ history is a proud storied one—an opus not too different from teams in other blue-collar cities in many regards. The key difference with the Steelers, of course, is the amount of success they’ve found. They’re on par with the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, whereas teams like the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and Detroit Lions have been perennial also rans. If I’m being honest, I don’t see any way the Steelers can keep this game close. It’s too daunting a task for a rookie NFL quarterback making his first start against an uber-talented team with designs on winning its first Super Bowl trophy. Rookie and first-year quarterbacks have historically performed very poorly when facing head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier. But that’s why they play the game. Winning is never guaranteed, and Kenny Pickett might just have the right sauce to exploit the suddenly trendy Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY. I’m also not suggesting that Pickett isn’t the QB who gives the Steelers a better chance at victory. I do think this line will give the Steelers a fair bit of juice to go out and prove people wrong. I’m not one to give a final score prediction, but I do think Buffalo wins by at least 17 on Sunday. Ultimately, I hope Sunday’s game is a classic and both teams find reason to celebrate regardless of the score.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 5 game vs. the Bills this Sunday in Orchard Park.