Analysis

Matchups Week 5: Steelers vs. Bills

Josh Allen Steelers vs. Bills

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Opening Spread: Bills -14.

Opening Game Total: 47.

Team Totals: Bills (30.5), Steelers (16.5)

Weather: Outdoors, no current concerns.

The Line Report

  • This line opened as Bills -14.
  • This line has moved down slightly to Bills -13.5.
  • DraftKings Pick’Em has the Bills -14.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest releases its lines Thursday afternoon.
  • This total opened at 47 points.
  • This total has moved slightly down to 46.5 points.

Notable Injuries

Bills: IR: S Micah Hyde. Out: WR Jamison Crowder, CB Tre’Davious White. Questionable: WR Isaiah McKenzie, TE Dawson Knox, C Mitch Morse, DT Ed Oliver, LB Tremaine Edmunds, S Jordan Poyer.

Steelers: IR: Edge T.J. Watt. Doubtful: CB Ahkello Witherspoon. Questionable: DL Cameron Heyward, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Terrell Edmunds, CB Cameron Sutton.

The Bills Offense vs. the Steelers Defense

With Watt sidelined, the Steelers have a fringe top-10 front. Buffalo has a similarly tiered offensive line, making this a draw in the trenches.

Betting Notes

  • The Bills are 2-2 against the spread this season.
  • The Bills are 1-3 on overs this season.
  • Buffalo has won two of its first four games by at least 21 points.

Bills Offense

  • Buffalo is scoring 28.5 points per game, good for fifth in the league.
  • The Bills are third in the league in yards passing per game and 12th in yards rushing.
  • Per TruMedia, quarterback Josh Allen is second in the league in yards passing and 18th in yards per attempt.
  • Among running backs, Devin Singletary is fifth in the league in snaps (190). However, he only has 34 carries, 129 yards rushing and five red zone carries. Singletary does have 17 receptions on 21 targets for 141 yards receiving and a solid 13% target share, making him a viable receiving option.
  • Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is seventh in the league in targets (41), second in receptions (31), second in yards receiving (406) and first in receiving touchdowns (4). Diggs has a 25.5% target share and a 37.3% air yards share while seeing 136 of his snaps on the perimeter and 65 in the slot.
  • Wide receiver Gabe Davis has already missed a game with an ankle injury and has gotten off to a slow start this season. Davis was a full practice participant on Wednesday though.
  • With Jamison Crowder sidelined, Isaiah McKenzie’s slot responsibility could expand. McKenzie is currently in concussion protocol, so he might miss the game.
  • Through the first four games, tight end Dawson Knox has 12 receptions on 17 targets for 111 yards receiving.

Steelers Defense

  • The Steelers have allowed 22.5 points per game, which is 15th in the league.
  • Pittsburgh is 21st in net yards passing allowed per game and 24th in net yards rushing allowed per game.
  • Pittsburgh is 12th in the league in sacks with 10 and tied for the lead in interceptions with seven.
  • Per The Edge, the Steelers have allowed the eighth-most yards rushing and the 11th-most yards receiving to running backs.
  • Pittsburgh has allowed the seventh-most yards receiving on the eighth-most receptions to wide receivers.
  • The Steelers have given up the fourth-most PPR points to slot receivers and the 10th-most to perimeter receivers this year.
  • Pittsburgh has allowed the 15th-most yards receiving on the 17th-most receptions to tight ends this year. 

The Steelers Offense vs. the Bills Defense

This is a matchup where Buffalo’s top-five defensive front faces the Steelers’ bottom-10 offensive line. The Bills’ defensive front has a potentially game-derailing trench advantage in this contest. 

Betting Notes

  • The Steelers are 1-2-1 against the spread this season.
  • The Steelers are 2-2 on overs this season.
  • The Steelers beat the Bills in Buffalo 23-16 on opening day last year.

Steelers Offense

  • The Steelers are scoring 18.5 points per game, which is 23rd in the league.
  • Pittsburgh is 29th in the league in yards passing and 23rd in yards rushing.
  • No. 20 overall pick Kenny Pickett was named the starter this week after playing in the second half against the Jets last week.
  • While Pickett had three interceptions (two were tipped, and the third was a desperation pass), he went 10-of-13 for 120 yards passing while adding 15 yards rushing with two scores on the ground.
  • Per TruMedia, Najee Harris is ninth in snaps (165), 14th in carries (58) and 13th in red zone carries among running backs. However, his production has been underwhelming. He’s outside the top 20 in yards rushing and yards receiving.
  • Wide receiver Diontae Johnson is eighth in the league in target share (29.4%) with a 32.9% team air yards share. Johnson has played 190 of his 206 snaps on the perimeter.
  • Rookie wide receiver George Pickens is coming off a six-catch 102-yard receiving performance. That more than doubled his overall production.
  • Tight end Pat Freiermuth has a 23.8% target share with a 19.9% air yards share. 

Bills Defense

  • Buffalo is allowing 14.5 points per game, which is second-best in the league.
  • The Bills have allowed the fewest net yards passing per game and the third-fewest net yards rushing per game.
  • Buffalo is fifth in the league in sacks with 15 and tied for first in interceptions with seven.
  • Per The Edge, Buffalo has allowed the fourth-fewest yards rushing and the third-fewest yards receiving to running backs.
  • Buffalo has allowed the fifth-fewest yards receiving on the 11th-fewest receptions to wide receivers this year.
  • The Bills have allowed the third-fewest yards receiving on the second-fewest receptions to tight ends this year.

This is What You’re Betting On in Steelers vs. Bills

A bet on the Bills is a bet on a title contender blowing out a rebuilding Steelers team.  Allen’s offense needs to at least meet expectations on their lofty 30.5-point team total. Allen might be the best quarterback in the league at this point. However, outside of Diggs, the Bills have average skill-position players. Buffalo’s front four needs to make good on their significant trench edge against the Steelers’ below-average offensive line if Buffalo is going to cover. Forcing numerous turnovers against Pickett, who is making his first start, is possible, considering he’s facing one of the best defenses in the league.

A bet on the Steelers is a bet on their defense using a zone-heavy approach, similar to what they did on opening day last year when they beat the Bills in Buffalo. The Steelers are slightly below league average in zone deployments through the first four games. However, they still play zone on most of their reps (64.8%, per TruMedia). You’ll also need Pickett to play turnover-free football in his first start while orchestrating a few scoring drives against one of the league’s best defenses. The Steelers’ offensive line has a significant disadvantage in the trenches against Buffalo’s front. That last part is your biggest concern if you’re considering the Steelers here.

Steelers vs. Bills Pool Picks

Awards Market Ramifications: Allen is an MVP favorite. Diggs is an Offensive Player of the Year contender. Pickett and Pickens have a narrow path to Offensive Rookie of the Year contention.

Winner/ Confidence Pool: Buffalo will be a near-universal selection in winner pools while holding the top spot in most confidence pools. I may move Buffalo to second in some confidence pools, but they are an obvious pick here.

Spread Pool: Bills -13.5 is a massive spread in an NFL game. There is a path to Buffalo blowing out the Steelers, but a 24-13 game or even a 30-17 game isn’t enough for Buffalo to cover. Ultimately, I will take the Bills or pass on this game.

Survivor Pool: There are several strong survivor options this week, and Buffalo is chief among those. While I may play Buffalo in at least one of my entries, I will try to save them if I can, on average, given the other robust options this week.

Ryan’s recent betting record:

ATS 2021: 49-31

ATS 2022: 14-6

Props 2022: 13-7

 

WATCH MORE: Greg Jennings Has a Bold Prediction for Pickett and Pickens

 

 

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