coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
On 11/04/2013 04:44 PM in NFL

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers: Preview and Pick

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers: Preview and Pick

The Pittsburgh Steelers are having a very difficult season and it was very evident in the loss to the New England Patriots. The Steelers were never in this game and although they made it close in the third quarter, they quickly faded away as the Patriots dominated the second half. The Steelers may have to make major changes with the team if they are not able to get a win this weekend against the lowly Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game will fluctuate and change leading up to kickoff, but is not released yet as the Bills quarterback situation is up in the air. Rookie EJ Manuel could be ready to be inserted back into the lineup and that could make Buffalo a much better team. Regardless of who is under center for the Bills, the Steelers should still be the favorite, albeit a slim one. Check the top rated list of online sportsbooks for the latest point spread on this game for week 10 in the National Football League.

The Steelers will live and die with their quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger completed 25-of-40 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns against four or fewer rushers on Sunday. However, Roethlisberger struggled against extra pass rushers, continuing a season-long trend. Roethlisberger entered Sunday with a 67.4 Total QBR against four or fewer rushers, 14th among qualified quarterbacks, but his 16.6 Total QBR against added pressure ranked last. Ben Roethlisberger threw his 200th career Pass TD in the 2nd quarter. He is one of 7 active QB with at least 200 career Pass TD, joining Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Matt Hasselbeck. He will have to carry this team, if they hope to beat the Bills.

The latest football betting trends for this game indicate this could be a low scoring game in favor of Pittsburgh. The total has gone under in 7 of Buffalo's last 10 games when playing Pittsburgh and under in 12 of Pittsburgh's last 14 games at home. Pittsburgh is 16-6 straight up in its last 22 games at home, 8-1 straight up in its last 9 games when playing Buffalo but 2-5-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 8 games at home. The Bills are 1-8 straight up and against the spread in its last 9 games when playing Pittsburgh and they are just 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games on the road.

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/05/2013 01:24 PM

Pittsburgh Steelers defense gave up 610 yards, the most ever given up in team history, in a 55-31 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

“We got kicked in the mouth,” said defensive end Cam Heyward on Monday, via Steelers.com. “We didn’t get the job done, from the defensive line, to the linebackers, to the secondary. We didn’t do a good job and I hope everybody learns from this. There is a lot to learn, a lot in the tape we can learn from.

“If anything that is how a defense should not play.”

The 55 points scored were the most an opponent has ever scored against the Steelers. After the offense tied the game at 24-24, the defense allowed 31 more points, 28 in the fourth quarter.

“We let our offense down,” said defensive end Ziggy Hood. “They put up big numbers in the game and we didn’t do our job as a defense and help those guys out on the other side. When you don’t fit well, or take your keys right or tackle well, you see what happens in a game like this.

“We let this game get out of hand and it was too late by the time the bell went off.”

Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who had a career-high three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss, said the Steelers margin for error is zero.

“We have a lot of confidence in the guys we have in the locker room,” said Cotchery. “It’s the mistakes. I have seen it over the years. They become contagious, just like the winning attitude. We have to get that fixed to start winning ball games. I know we have the guys to do it and we are going to start working towards that on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of high character guys on this team, a lot of good players. The mistakes that we have made have cost us. Those mistakes have to be eliminated totally. Not even minimized. Our margin for error is zero. We have to start winning ball games right here.”

Coach Mike Tomlin made it clear that he will bench players if they do not show more effort. Tomlin benched wide receiver Antonio Brown against the Patriots, but said the 4-year veteran will start Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

“We are going to comb through this with a fine tooth comb, as we should,” Tomlin said. “Those people that were lacking effort won’t be playing. It’s just that simple.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/06/2013 02:59 PM

When the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon, there is a good chance that they will get a look at rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Manuel has been cleared for “full go” in practice this week and barring any sort of setback, the first-round pick is likely to be under center when the Bills make their way to Heinz Field.

The Florida State product injured his knee when the Bills took on the Cleveland Browns during a Thursday night contest in Week 5. He was expected to miss a few weeks with the LCL injury. The Bills had signed Matt Flynn on October 15 and Thad Lewis has filled in for Manuel even since, until last week when Jeff Tuel filled in for the injured Lewis in the Bills loss to the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

What that means for the Steelers is they will get a look at yet another rookie quarterback, something Dick LeBeau has a history of having success against.

But judging by this season so far, you can’t really count on past results meaning much for this Steelers team.

The 16th overall pick in the draft has had an up and down first go around in the NFL like most rookie quarterbacks.

There has been times where he has looked like a franchise quarterback, most notably his game-winning drive against the Carolina Panthers earlier in the season. But at other times his errant throws have been head scratching at best.

Manuel has thrown for 985 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions before being injured. His QBR ranked 23rd among NFL quarterbacks through Week 5.

The Steelers should be licking their chops going against the rookie but if this season has taught us anything, Manuel could be in for a career day upon his return.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/06/2013 03:00 PM

The Pittsburgh Steelers are an uncharacteristic 2-6 heading into their Week 10 showdown with the Buffalo Bills. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff are trying to overcome several shortcomings on both sides of the ball, and Pittsburgh is looking at back-to-back seasons without a playoff berth since a three-year stretch from 1998-2000.

One of the Steelers' longest-standing issues has been the protection in front of franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Things are especially bad on that front this year, as Roethlisberger has already been taken down a whopping 31 times through eight games, and has been sacked five times in a game on four separate occasions this year. In last week's 55-31 loss at the hand of the New England Patriots, Roethlisberger was sacked five times, hit a bunch and turned the ball over three times - but he also threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns.

A closer look at how the Patriots pressured Roethlisberger revealed a pretty basic game plan, as detailed in the slides above: New England spent most of the day sending four pass rushers in an effort to keep Roethlisberger, one of the best the game has ever seen at extending a play, in the pocket. Roethlisberger was his usual self, shaking off a couple of would-be sacks to make big plays down the field, but New England also did enough to harass him into some errant throws and mistakes.

Make no mistake: Roethlisberger is still excellent, and he has a deep stable of explosive skill players that are capable of ripping off big chunks of yardage. No game plan against Big Ben is foolproof, as evidenced by the fact that New England, in doing a lot of good things against him, still gave up gobs of yards and points.

Look for Mike Pettine and the Bills to employ a similar defensive strategy this week: they'll spend most of their day rushing four, though Pettine being Pettine, we'll probably see him blitz more than the Pats did on Sunday. The idea is to send four, have them win a winnable matchup against the Steelers' overmatched offensive line, and cover as thoroughly as possible to try to pick up some coverage sacks and force some bad decisions. Buffalo did similar things in Week 2 against Cam Newton, who was sacked six times and held to 15 rushing yards in a Bills win.

Mario Williams, for the record, has played against Roethlisberger and the Steelers twice previously in his career, both as a member of the Houston Texans. He recorded two sacks in both of those games.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/07/2013 01:50 PM

While Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is looking for something to turn around his team's disappointing season, the Buffalo Bills hope rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is healthy enough to help them get back on track.

Both teams will be trying to avoid a third straight defeat when the Steelers look to continue their dominance over the visiting Bills on Sunday.

Since reaching 6-3 with a 16-13 overtime win over Kansas City on Nov. 12, Pittsburgh (2-6) has lost 11 of 15. The Steelers might have bottomed out last Sunday when they were outscored 31-7 down the stretch of a 55-31 loss at New England.

"We're here to win," Tomlin said. "That's our charge, that's our job, that's our passion. We're not getting it done consistently to this point. So, that's irritating and frustrating."

New England's point total was the highest allowed by the Steelers in their storied history.

"I think we're all angry and disappointed," said Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 400 yards and four touchdowns but committed three turnovers. "That's probably collectively what's in this locker room."

Tomlin is not opposed to making lineup changes, and already benched receiver Antonio Brown for a series last week after a blown assignment led to an interception. The Steelers did sign second-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke this week, but more as insurance if Ike Taylor is unable to play because of a concussion suffered last Sunday.

"You re-evaluate everything," Tomlin said. "You have to after a performance like (last weekend) and we will. It doesn't necessarily mean we will change or change for the sake of changing, but we will look at every aspect of what we are doing and who we are doing it with."

Veteran safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark were often victimized by Tom Brady, who threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns. Tomlin, however, expects to stick with both considering Pittsburgh ranks fourth in the league with 210.0 passing yards allowed per game.

"I've got a great deal of confidence in them and their abilities to play and play winning football for us," he said.

Pittsburgh, however, is 31st in rush defense with an average of 131.3 yards after yielding 197 apiece to Oakland and New England in the last two weeks.

Stopping the run may not prove any easier against Buffalo (3-6), which ranks seventh with 145.8 yards per game on the ground after running for a season-high 241 in a 23-13 loss to Kansas City last week. C.J. Spiller gained 116 yards on 12 carries and Fred Jackson added 77 on 16 attempts.

Buffalo outgained Kansas City 470-210, but the undefeated Chiefs scored twice on defense. Bills rookie Jeff Tuel was picked off by Sean Smith, who returned it 100 yards for a touchdown that tied the game in the third quarter. Tamba Hali then returned receiver T.J. Graham's fumble 11 yards for a score to give the Chiefs a 20-13 lead early in the fourth.

The Bills have committed three turnovers in each of the last two games after totaling three in the previous three contests.

"Turnovers," coach Doug Marrone said. "It always comes down to that first."

Buffalo's offense might run smoother under Manuel, who appears ready to start Sunday after missing four weeks with a sprained right knee. Backup Thad Lewis, 1-2 as a starter this season, is also apparently ready to return after missing last week with bruised ribs.

Manuel, the first-round pick who is seen as the team's future, has completed 56.7 percent of his passes with five TDs and three interceptions while going 2-3.

"Definitely looking forward to getting into practice full course and taking as many reps as coach allows me to get," Manuel said.

Inexperience at quarterback is a big reason why the Bills rank last in the NFL with a 55.4 completion percentage. Their three QBs have been sacked 28 times.

"I think any time you have inconsistency back there it's going to make it tough, or adverse," Jackson said. "You want to be consistent. You want to have somebody back there that's steady throughout the season. And that helps you grow as an offense. Not having that I think it definitely has played a role in us having some ups and downs."

Whoever is under center might not have receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin as options after both were injured last Sunday.

Buffalo has dropped four straight and eight of nine to the Steelers, including playoffs. The Bills, who last played in Pittsburgh in 2007, are 2-9 there and have been outscored 136-40 during a five-game regular-season and playoff road skid in the series.

Jackson had a 65-yard touchdown reception, but Pittsburgh's Shaun Suisham kicked four field goals in a 19-16 overtime win in the latest meeting Nov. 28, 2010.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/08/2013 02:09 PM

Steelers have worst record at season's midway point since 2006 team began 2-6. Bills have dropped four of five after 2-2 start. ...
Five of Pittsburgh's six losses have come by seven points or more. Team had only five losses by seven points or more in 2011 and 2012 combined. ...
Bills 1-7 all-time in Pittsburgh during regular season. Only victory came in a 30-21 win on Sept. 28, 1975 when O.J. Simpson ran for 227 yards, including 88-yard touchdown. ...
Buffalo rookie QB E.J. Manuel expected to return after missing four games with sprained right knee. ...
DE Mario Williams first Buffalo player to top 10.0 sacks in consecutive seasons since Aaron Schobel in 2005-06. ... Bills only team in NFL with four players who have at least four sacks. ...
Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley is a Pittsburgh native and spent 11 years as the Steelers Pro Scouting Coordinator from 1999-2009. ...
Steelers are 16-2 when facing rookie quarterbacks since 2004. ...
Pittsburgh is allowing 131 yards rushing per game, 31st in the league. The Steelers haven't finished outside the top 10 in fewest rushing yards allowed since 2003. ...
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger threw his 200th touchdown pass last week. He is one of five QBs in NFL history to throw for 200 touchdowns and win two Super Bowls. ...
Steelers WR Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 61 receptions and is on pace to break Hines Ward's team record for receptions in a season (112 set in 2002). ...
Roethlisberger's 2,330 yards passing are most by Steelers quarterback in first half of a season.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/08/2013 02:18 PM

Traditionally speaking, a trip to Pittsburgh has been the last thing a Buffalo Bills team would seek as a "get-well" mission.

But as the losses and the record-setting defensive lapses continue to pile up in the Steel City in 2013, it's becoming quite apparent that these are not the traditional Steelers.

So when Buffalo heads to Heinz Field for a Week 10 showdown this Sunday, it'll do so feeling like it can exorcise the demons from a particularly unsatisfying Week 9.

The Bills head to Western Pennsylvania following a home loss to the still- unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs in which the hosts outgained the visitors by more than a 2-to-1 margin, 470-210, but still managed to lose the game by a double- digit margin, 23-13.

Buffalo ran for 241 yards and got 229 in the air from reserve quarterback Jeff Tuel, but saw a pair of turnovers immediately converted into points when Sean Smith took an interception 100 yards for a touchdown and Tamba Hali scooped up a fumble and went in from 11 yards for another that broke a fourth-quarter tie.

It was a significant departure from recent script for the Bills, who'd had three turnovers in a three-game stretch before losing the ball three times in each of the last two games.

"Turnovers. It always comes down to that first," coach Doug Marrone said.

The offense presumably gets its leader back this week in the form of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who'd missed four games since spraining his right knee against Cleveland. His initial backup, Thaddeus Lewis, was 1-2 as a starter and seemed comfortable in the role, but missed last week after sustaining a rib injury in Week 8.

Manuel is 2-3 in five starts with five TD passes and three interceptions.

"Any time you have inconsistency back there it's going to make it tough, or adverse," running back Fred Jackson said. "You want to be consistent. You want to have somebody back there that's steady throughout the season. And that helps you grow as an offense. Not having that I think it definitely has played a role in us having some ups and downs."

Buffalo got 116 yards in 12 carries from C.J. Spiller against the Chiefs and 77 more on 16 attempts from Jackson, pushing its per-game run average to 145.8 yards - seventh-best in the NFL.

"(I'm) definitely looking forward to getting into practice full course and taking as many reps as coach allows me to get," Manuel said.

A rookie quarterback with four weeks of rust is surely a welcome sight for the Steelers after last weekend, when they were riddled for 432 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-31 loss to veteran Tom Brady and his New England Patriots.

The loss was their sixth in eight games this season and their 11th in 15 overall since beginning 2012 with a 6-3 mark. That run ended in an 8-8 finish and this year's squad - barring a significant change in momentum - will give Pittsburgh its first sub-.500 finish since 2003.

"We're here to win," coach Mike Tomlin said. "That's our charge. That's our job. That's our passion. We're not getting it done consistently to this point. So that's irritating and frustrating."

The Patriots' point total was the highest for a foe in franchise history.

"We're all angry and disappointed," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "That's probably collectively what's in this locker room."

Roethlisberger passed for 400 yards and four TDs, but also committed three turnovers. One of his wide receivers, Antonio Brown, was benched for a series after an interception resulted from his blown assignment.

On defense, Pittsburgh signed a new cornerback, DeMarcus Van Dyke, as a possible need-based replacement for veteran Ike Taylor, who's questionable after a concussion.

The Steelers remain fourth in the league against the pass - allowing 210 yards per game - but they're also second to last against the run among 32 teams after surrendering nearly 200 to both Oakland and the Patriots in two weeks.

"You re-evaluate everything," Tomlin said. "You have to after a performance like (the one against New England) and we will. It doesn't necessarily mean we will change or change for the sake of changing, but we will look at every aspect of what we are doing and who we are doing it with."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/08/2013 02:19 PM

The Steelers defense has become especially porous as of late when it comes to stopping the run. Of particular concern is the success had by mobile quarterback Terrelle Pryor two weeks ago, considering that the Bills' Manuel possesses a similar skill set to Pryor, along with quality weapons in Spiller, Jackson and Stevie Johnson.

Shoring up the right side.

Lining up across from Mario WIlliams and his 11 sacks is challenging enough for the sturdiest of offensive linemen. But when the right side of the line is dinged up - tackle Marcus Gilbert is questionable with an ankle injury and guard David DeCastro is probable with an ankle issue of his own - it's a significant concern for Roethlisberger

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13658 Followers:19
11/08/2013 07:04 PM

The Bills will likely be without wide receiver Robert Woods (ankle) after listing him as doubtful, while linebacker Manny Lawson (personal) is questionable.

Quarterback E.J. Manuel is set to return from his knee injury. Tackles Mike Adams (ribs) and Marcus Gilbert (ankle) are both questionable for the Steelers.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0