Free NFL Pick: Pittsburgh at Buffalo 11-28-2010

November 27, 2010

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Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday November 28th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Pittsburgh -7

Overview:

The Buffalo Bills may be 2-8, but they are on a two game win streak. The Bills are still one of the worst teams in the league, but they have remained competitive since their bye week, winning two games, going into overtime twice, and having all three losses come by a three point margin. Unfortunately for the Bills, they take on one of the best teams in the league when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers are 7-3 this season and have won by coupling shut down defense and physical play on both sides of the ball. The Steelers are scrutinized because they struggle against elite teams, but they won’t be facing such a team when they take on Buffalo on Sunday. Pittsburgh is a dominant team and though the Bills have looked decent recently, is it logical to think they can keep it within one score in Pittsburgh?

Keys to the Game:

  • The Bills offense does not match up well against the Steelers defense. While very few offenses match up against the Pittsburgh defense favorably, Buffalo’s strengths will likely be kept in check when they take on the Steelers. The Bills succeed on offense when Ryan Fitzpatrick gets outside the pocket and they get the run game going. The problem is, Fitzpatrick will likely remain in the pocket and the run game is going nowhere.
  • The Steelers are the number one team against the run this season. It’s hard to find a hole in their front seven. They run the 3-4, which is a defense that relies heavily on the outside linebackers setting the edge to inhibit any offensive player from breaking contain. In the Bill’s case, Fitzpatrick is the most dangerous player on the field. He is borderline ineffective if he has to become a pocket passer. With James Harrison and Lamar Woodley being responsible for contain, Fitzpatrick is likely to be suffocated.
  • Brett Keisel is likely coming back this week. This is huge for the Steelers, as Keisel is one of the most important parts of the front seven. While Casey Hampton gets most of the credit for the Steelers defensive line, Keisel plays a pivotal role in the Dick LeBeau’s defense. The linebacker corp is obviously among the most feared in the NFL. They become more effective when Keisel is present in the lineup.
  • The Bills really can’t stop the run. The Steelers will likely take advantage of the porous Bills defense by feeding Rashard Mendenhall a hefty amount of carries early on. This isn’t to say that the Bills look great against the pass, but teams are certainly less eager to air it out than put it on the ground. The Steelers have big time targets in Mike Wallace and Hines Ward. While they can’t sleep on the pass game, they need to focus on making sure tackles and being more physical up front. When Paul Posluszny headlines your front seven, it could be time to address your personnel.

Key Matchup:

Bills defense Vs. Pittsburgh offense.

  • While I have never chosen an entire defense vs an entire offense for the key matchup before, I think it is fitting here. Despite their record, the Bills are not miserable on offense. They could be better, sure, but they offense has held their own for most of the season. On one occasion they put up 34 points against the Ravens in a losing effort. The blame for this season lies on the defense. The Bills can produce on offense, but if their defense doesn’t develop a sense of urgency, they will continue to stack up losses.
  • Pittsburgh is going to punish the Bills on offense. Their physical offensive line looks destined to blaze a trail for Mendenhall with ease. It is unlikely that the Steelers will find themselves in a shoot out, so if the Bills have any shot at covering, they will have to contain the Steelers on offense. While this matchup may not be the key in who wins the game, the only way the Bills cover is if they get involved in a defensive struggle by providing some sort of resistance on defense.

Wrap Up:

The Steelers, Giants, and Jets were teams that looked like they were going to skip through the regular season into the playoffs. While all three of them remain solidly in the playoff picture, the past few weeks have made teams challenge their superiority. The Jets came away with a big time victory against a weaker opponent and the Steelers need to do the same this week.

The Bills have been involved in tight games recently. They kept it close in Arrowhead and Baltimore, which is a feat in itself. That being said, the Bills are vulnerable to being blown out. I’ve taken the Bills on occasion this season, but they are a pathetic 1-3 against the spread at home. If this game was in Pittsburgh, the Bills may have a chance at covering against the Steelers with a larger spread. As it stands, this game has big time blow out potential.

Free NFL Pick: Pittsburgh -7


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