The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers and Bills both sit at the bottom of their divisions as both teams are desperate for a win. The Steelers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots while the Bills are coming off a game they let slip away against the Kansas City Chiefs.
What’s it going to take for the Steelers to end their two game skid and pickup a win against the Bills?
5. Start Fast
One issue the Steelers have faced all season is their inability to start the game off fast. The Steelers in the first quarter have been outscored 61-19, and clearly have a tendency to get behind early. After falling behind they manage to creep their way back into the game but often times the clock becomes a problem and there isn’t enough time to complete the comeback.
If the Steelers can start the game off on the right foot and find the scoreboard early, they’ll be in good position to beat the Bills. I’m talking touchdowns, not field goals. The Steelers need to put the ball in the end zone; too many times they’re stalling in the red zone and settling for three points rather than six. If the Steelers fall behind early, the Bills have a solid running game that could put the Steelers away late in the game.
4. Dial Up the Pressure
Bills’ quarterback, EJ Manuel is returning to the lineup just in time to face the Steelers. If the Steelers learned anything from playing a rookie quarterback against the New York Jets it’s dial up the pressure. The Steelers’ defense did a good job of creating pressure against Geno Smith back in week 6 against the Jets. Smith turned the ball over twice in that game and a lot of his mistakes were due to the pressure he felt.
The Steelers haven’t been all that great at getting to the quarterback this season but when they do they see results. Last week, the Steelers nearly got to Tom Brady on several occasions but nearly isn’t getting there and Brady was able to torch the Steelers. Manuel hasn’t played in four weeks, there’s bound to be some rust. I don’t expect Manuel to come in and be picture perfect. He’s a rookie and coming off an injury. A lot of pressure from the Steelers defense should ruin the return of the Bills’ rookie QB.
3. Utilize the Speed on the Field
The Steelers receivers have a lot of talent. Maybe it hasn’t been used to its full extent this season but it’s there. Offensive coordinator Toddy Haley likes to run a lot of screens and dump passes. Usually I’m not in favor of this but in this game those kind of plays are going to work.
The Steelers should use the speed they have on the field to take advantage of the Bills’ defense. A lot of dump passes over the middle or quick screens to guys like Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton will really help the Steelers. If the Steelers can get these kind of plays rolling they’ll be able to trickling in some runs and then spread it out for the big pass plays.
2. Take Care of the Football
I don’t care what team you play, if you can’t take care of the ball and keep the turnovers to a minimum, you’re going to get beat. There’s been a lot of games on the Steelers’ schedule that they should have won but didn’t. In a lot of those games, turning the ball over was a big reason they came away with a loss.
Last week the Steelers turned it over three times: two interceptions and one fumble lost. The Steelers need to keep the game clean of turnovers. However, it wouldn’t hurt to get some on the defensive side of the ball.
1. Stop the Run
Last week the Bills amassed 241 yards on the ground, led by running back C.J. Spiller. Spiller contributed 116 yards while fellow running back Fred Jackson put in 77 yards.
Meanwhile, the Steelers allowed the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley to rush for 115 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers’ defense has been struggling when it comes to the run. If I’m the Bills, I’m pounding the ball with Spiller and Jackson.
The Steelers need to make sure they put the game in the hands of Manuel; the running game for the Bills outshines the passing attack. Manuel isn’t close to being Tom Brady and the Steelers’ defense should be able to get to another rookie quarterback. As long as the Bills rushing game is kept to a minimal, the Steelers can win this one.
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