Last week wasn’t pretty for me as my ‘Pick of the Week’ (the Bills) fell short for the 2nd straight time. You now have two options; start fading me if you think I flat-out suck or hope that I turn it around starting this week. I’m going to vote for the latter as I know my winning ways will come back to me sooner or later.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills: PIT PK (Pinnacle)No, this isn’t just a revenge pick against the Bills for burning me last week. Having watched both the Steelers and Bills play this preseason, it is evident that the Bills need the next two weeks if they are going to be ready for the opening round of the NFL. The Steelers, on the other hand, look far more settled and go into this ‘dress-rehearsal’ on the back of a hard-fought win over the Colts.
It’s time for Todd Hailey to open up his offensive playbook this week and look to introduce a few quality plays for Big Ben to go deep. Mike Wallace is missing again but the Steelers still have some talented receivers to target including Brown and Sanders. Heath Miller has not caught a pass all preseason, so look for him to be a bit more involved this week. Knowing they can throw the ball, the Steelers have focused on the run this preseason, choosing the ground route over 56% of the time. I expect this to change a little this week as the team prepares specifically for their opposition for the 1st time all preseason. The Vikings burned the Bills secondary with the big play last week and the Steelers may well do the same. Not much to say defensively for the Steelers. They appear hungry with the Broncos postseason loss still motivating them as a unit. They were stiff against the run last year (9th in the league), which matches up well against the Bills’ biggest strength.
I still think the Bills can have a solid season but they need to show more on Offense. The problem with the Bills in the preseason is that their strength (running the football) in the regular season doesn’t crossover well to the preseason. Nobody wants to pound the rock again and again with their most valuable offensive pieces in games that don’t count. Without Jackson and Spiller touching the ball on a regular basis, this offense doesn’t have much punch. The Bills lack playmakers on the outside with Stevie Johnson serving as the only real deep threat. This group is solid on defence and I don’t think we’ve seen the best from their defensive line. Maybe once the real stuff starts we will see the likes of Mario Williams take over a game. Nevertheless, they will pose a good test for Pittsburgh’s talented but relatively inexperienced O-Line. Cornerback Terrence McGee looks set to make his return to a secondary that has shown youthful mistakes in the first 2 weeks. It is these rookie mistakes that have cost the Bills so far.
Mike Tomlin loves winning preseason games. Chan Gailey does not. With both groups of starters expected to play into the 3rd quarter, I expect the Steelers to gain ascendancy, as they look the sharper of the two units at this early stage. And, if my pick comes down to a nail-biting 4th quarter finish, Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch shouldn’t let me down as Pittsburgh’s backup QB. Take the Steelers on the road.
NFL Pick: PIT PK.
CC is an up and coming handicapper with a focus on American sports. He covers NFL, NBA, MLB and more - with a winning overall record across sports. You can follow all his plays on Twitter @CCPicks.