Last updated December 30th, 2020
Sunday Night Football fans are in for a real treat today as the two best teams in the AFC are set to go head-to-head. The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Buffalo Bills in what could well be a preview of the AFC Championship (8.20pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on NBC).
Following last week’s loss, the Steelers haven’t quite locked up the first seed yet and if the Bills can win today, they’ll just be one win behind Pittsburgh for that top spot. Both of these teams have shown this year why they are the class of the AFC and tonight, they’ll show which one of them is truly the conference’s best.
Something has to give tonight and USAbetting’s NFL game preview, with Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills predictions, aims to solve the riddle. Read on for analysis and betting picks.
Undefeated No More
While much has been made about how terrible the NFC East is, last week, the division pulled off two upsets when the New York Giants shocked the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Football Team absolutely stunned the Steelers. Pittsburgh had been an undefeated 11-0 heading into their showdown with Washington. No one expected that to be the game where the Steelers would pick up their first loss of the year. In fact, looking at the schedule, the most likely place Pittsburgh looked to lose was this week, against Buffalo. Football is sometimes the game of the unexpected and last week, David slayed Goliath.
The win by Washington was huge in its own right but as many around the league would tell you, it was not as unexpected an outcome as it may have seemed on its face. The Steelers, for all intents and purposes, were not as good as their undefeated record led people to believe. The record was misleading. Sure, Pittsburgh has been a good team, bolstered by a top defense and the resurgence of Ben Roethlisberger, but the fact they made it so long into the season blemish free was a minor miracle in and of itself. Why? Because the Steelers have had a terrible habit this year of playing down to their opponents. Pittsburgh almost allowed a COVID-decimated Baltimore Ravens to defeat them two weeks ago and came close to being upset by the woeful Dallas Cowboys a few weeks prior. They left an opening for the equally bad Philadelphia Eagles to nearly mount a winning comeback and had close calls against the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans before that.
It had started to feel like only a matter of time until one of those subpar teams broke through and, sure enough, that happened last week. The Steelers once again played down to an inferior opponent, allowing Washington to be in a game where they should have easily been beaten. Some would call it a trap game but given how close Pittsburgh came to losing their streak the week prior, there was no reason the team should have treated Washington as an easy game. The Football Team played one of their best games all year, managing to control the ball and the tempo in their favor. Alex Smith had another strong performance and, in the end, Washington pulled off the upset.
The worst thing the Steelers can do is likely what they are doing already. It’s easy to dwell on a loss like that, especially since it was a game that you know you should have won but Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin are veterans. They’ve lost games they should have won before. They know what upsets feel like. They’ll be the first to stand up and focus on putting last week behind them. The chance at a 16-0 season is gone but the first overall seed and best record in the league isn’t. That opportunity is very much still alive and will be locked up with a win on today’s Sunday Night Football. Should the Steelers lose, there will no doubt be some head-shaking in Pittsburgh.
The Rise of Josh Allen
The Bills have been a team on the rise for a few years now and that has no doubt coincided with some great football from quarterback Josh Allen. Once a struggling and inconsistent signal caller, Allen has grown into one of the smarter and more well-rounded young QBs in this league. Allen’s growth and maturation have been obvious but so too has been the uptick in his quality of play.
This year, if not for what has been a career-defining campaign by Aaron Rodgers, Allen would likely be the MVP favorite. As such, he’s still in the hunt as he has put up big numbers (top-six in the NFL in touchdowns, passing yards and QBR) and has helped the Bills be one of the NFL’s top-scoring units. Of course, he has had help. One of the best things Buffalo did in the offseason was make a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs. Diggs is tied for first among all pass catchers with 90 receptions and his 1,037 receiving yards is good enough for top-five as well.
The Allen/Diggs combo has been lethal this year and there is no reason to see the connection slowing down anytime soon. Just last week, Diggs caught all 10 of his targets for just shy of 100 yards. While Pittsburgh’s defense is strong, Diggs’ size and athleticism makes him a favorite in any potential matchup or double team that the Steelers will throw at him on Sunday.
Our Betting Preview’s Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills Predictions, Picks & Odds Recommendations
It seems really strange to say this about a one-loss team but Sunday will be a huge opportunity for the Steelers to show they are a true Super Bowl contender. Pittsburgh has to get back in the win column and it’s not just for mental reasons either. A loss on Sunday will put the Bills just one game back of that first overall seed. The Steelers and Bills for that matter, both want to finish their seasons with momentum and a head of steam going into the playoffs. That journey begins this week.
At home, the Bills are just 2.5-point favorites with the top sportsbooks for this Sunday game. It’s such a tough spread to call whenever the score line falls below a field goal margin. However, we do like the Steelers not to lose two in a row. So our Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills predictions and concluding betting picks for this preview are:
- Bet the Steelers +2.5pts @ -105 with Intertops. It is -110 with Bovada or Bookmaker and -114 with BetOnline.
- Look for the over on 48.5 as far as the total points goes. This can be wagered @ -110 with Bovada or Intertops. Bookmaker is -111 and BetOnline goes over 49pts at -105.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.