Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Buffalo Bills Matchup Preview (9/12/21): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Steelers vs. Bills Matchup Preview (9/12/21)
Two of the winningest teams in the AFC from last season meet again in Week 1 after a sloppy, cold-weather game in Buffalo in December of last year resulted in a 26-15 Bills win. The Steelers kept it close for most of the game, but a pick-six by Taron Johnson just before halftime shifted momentum in the direction of the Bills. Josh Allen had an MVP-caliber season last year, but this Steelers defense is going to be a challenge for him to overcome. On the other side, Ben Roethlisberger struggled against Buffalo in their last matchup but the introduction of Najee Harris to the Steelers offense should help them field a multi-dimensional attack. It’s going to be a sunny day in Buffalo, so weather won’t be nearly as much of a factor as it was last time.
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Date: Sunday, September 12th
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Highmark Stadium – Buffalo, NY
TV Coverage: CBS
Steelers vs. Bills Live Stream
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Pittsburgh Steelers: OLB T.J. Watt (contract dispute) Q, DE Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed) IR
Buffalo Bills: WR Stefon Diggs (knee) Q, S Micah Hyde (personal) Q, DT Star Lotulelei (calf) Q, OLB Matt Milano (mouth) Q, CB Taron Johnson (hand) Q, CB Dane Jackson (neck) Q
Pittsburgh Steelers Analysis
The Steelers sound excited about Ben Roethlisberger’s physical shape heading into this season as he’s lost some weight after a strict offseason diet and he is another year removed from an A/C joint sprain and torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder. Pittsburgh’s new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, formerly the team’s quarterbacks coach, is expected to bring a new-look offense with more pre-snap motion and audibles at the line of scrimmage with Roethlisberger having the ultimate control over the offense.
Pittsburgh’s offensive line is sort of a mess, which is the biggest concern heading into this season. I ranked the Steelers as the second-worst offensive line in my pre-season rankings. Maurkice Pouncey, Alejandro Vilanueva, David DeCastro, and Matt Feiler are all gone from last season, and there are a lot of question marks for the offensive line as only one starter from last season remains.
While the offensive line isn’t good, the skill position players are very good. Najee Harris comes in with a lot of hype as a rookie running back who should be a massive upgrade over James Conner, and I’m very confident in his ability to produce despite the poor offensive line. It also doesn’t get a whole lot better than the trio of wide receivers of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Roethlisberger should be able to move the ball through the air in this game, particularly with cornerbacks Taron Johnson and Dane Jackson banged up.
Pittsburgh’s defense allowed the third-fewest points per game in the NFL last season and should be one of the league’s best yet again. The front seven is stacked with talent, although T.J. Watt is still in the midst of a contract dispute. Watt is joined by Cameron Heyward, Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, and Tyson Alalu, although Stephon Tuitt is on Injured Reserve and will not play in this game. Minkah Fitzpatrick is also one of the best safeties in the NFL. This defense will give Josh Allen all he can handle in Week 1.
Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart
Buffalo Bills Analysis
Josh Allen is coming off an MVP-caliber season last year and has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He threw for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns to 10 interceptions last season as his completion percentage and touchdown percentage took massive jumps to significant career-highs. Allen struggled against the Steelers when they played last season, and he said matchups with the Steelers are like “boxing matches”. It will be fun to see Allen move the ball against a stout defense.
Allen won’t be without help in the passing game as the Bills have built an impressive cadre of receivers for their MVP-level quarterback. Stefon Diggs is one of the best route-runners in the NFL and was a huge part of Allen’s ascension last season. Emmanuel Sanders may be 34 years old, but training camp reports suggest the veteran still has plenty left in the tank. Cole Beasley is a slot technician who has some of the best hands in the NFL. Gabriel Davis is a burner who is a constant threat to take the top off the defense. If there’s one area where Pittsburgh’s defense is weaker it’s at cornerback, so this group of receivers should be productive.
Buffalo’s offensive line returns all five starters in a solidly unspectacular group that I ranked almost at league average as the 17th-best offensive line in the NFL. Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams are a consistent tackle duo and the interior offensive line has some chops, particularly in pass protection. The run-blocking hasn’t been great and the running back duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss was nothing to write home about last season. The Bills’ offense revolves around Allen and the passing game.
Defensively, the Bills will be hoping for an improved unit this season with a reinvigorated pass rush. Second-year pro A.J. Epenesa and rookies Gregory Rousseau and Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. should provide some extra juice off the edge along with Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. Buffalo already had a stacked group of cornerbacks with Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, and Taron Johnson leading the secondary along with safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. This defense gave Ben Roethlisberger fits in their last meeting and will look to do so again.
Buffalo Bills Depth Chart
Steelers vs. Bills Betting Corner
Public money has been backing the Bills in this matchup at -6.5 and oddsmakers are faced with the precarious decision of whether or not to push the line through the one-touchdown number. The Bills won by 11 points the last time these two teams played and Buffalo has covered the spread in two of the last three times these teams have played. Pittsburgh was just 2-5 ATS in its final seven games of last season, but the Steelers are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games against Buffalo. I personally have a lot of faith in the Mike Tomlin-led Steelers to keep this game close, particularly with their stout defense that should now be complemented by an effective running game. I still like the Bills to get the Week 1 home win, but Pittsburgh will keep it closer than some may be expecting. I would also lean towards the under on the points total with two solid defenses in this game.
My predictions: Bills win 24-20, Steelers cover, under 48.5 points
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Steelers vs. Bills Daily Fantasy Picks
I don’t forsee this being among the higher-scoring games on the week, but that doesn’t mean there can’t still be some DFS value to extract from these players. In particular, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs are going to be one of my favorite QB-WR stacks all season long once again. I would especially love to play that duo in GPP formats as I expect their ownership to be down a bit due to a semi-difficult matchup against the Steelers. On the Pittsburgh side, Najee Harris is one of my top RB targets for Week 1 as I think the Bills are a beatable rushing defense and I’m expecting Harris to see a ton of touches right out of the gates. I’d stay away from Ben Roethlisberger in this matchup and I don’t love any one of the Pittsburgh wideouts as this isn’t going to be a shootout and it’s hard to predict which one will end up having a good game. If you have to pick a Steelers wide receiver, go for Diontae Johnson in cash games and Chase Claypool in GPP formats given his considerable upside.