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Pregame primer: Everything you need to know for Bills-Steelers, plus five things to watch for

It's last chance time for the Buffalo Bills.

At 6-6, the team's playoff hopes are officially in critical condition. A loss Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field would amount to the plug being pulled.

Pittsburgh comes into the game hot, having won three straight games, allowing just 30 points over that span.

Here is everything you need to know about Sunday's game, plus five things to watch for:

• TV: CBS. Announcers: Jim Nantz (play by play), Phil Simms (color analyst).

• Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play by play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).

• Series history: Steelers lead, 13-8. Last meeting: Nov. 10, 2013 -- 23-10 Steelers win in Pittsburgh. The last time Pittsburgh came to Buffalo, the Steelers came away with a 19-17 overtime victory, a game made famous when Bills receiver Stevie Johnson dropped a potential game-winning touchdown in the end zone during overtime, then appeared to blame God in a tweet afterward.

• Milestone watch: Wide receiver Robert Woods needs six catches to reach 200 for his career. Woods would be be the fourth player in franchise history with 200 catches in his first four seasons.

• Uni watch: The Bills are flip-flopping from last week, going with blue jerseys and white pants against the Steelers.

• Did you know? With three more rushing touchdowns, the Bills will reach 26, setting a franchise single-season record.

• Next up: The Bills' three-game homestand continues with a visit by the Cleveland Browns! I went with the exclamation point to try and drum up some excitement. Can you feel it?

Here are five things to watch for against the Steelers:

1. Can Tyrod Taylor rise to the occasion? The Bills' quarterback has come under the most intense scrutiny of his two-year career in Buffalo after a miserable performance against Oakland left the team's playoff hopes dangling by a thread. The excuses are all gone Sunday for Taylor. He's expected to have Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Charles Clay in the lineup at the same time. The pressure will be on the Bills' quarterback to produce in a must-win game. If he can, it will go down as his best win since coming to Buffalo.

2.  Is Kyle Williams ready to go? The veteran defensive tackle missed the final practice of the week after his back locked up, leaving coach Rex Ryan to say it was a definite concern that Williams might not be able to play. His absence would be a huge blow to the Bills' run defense, which has to contend with the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell. Williams and Marcell Dareus have been an impressive combination up front for the Buffalo defense. If Williams is out, Leger Douzable figures to get the start.

3. Will Shaq Lawson take over as a starter? Rex Ryan said that he would Tuesday when he taped his television program. The Bills' own website picked those comments up and reported the news. One problem, however, is that nobody told either Lawson or Lorenzo Alexander, the veteran with 10 sacks who has held the position all season. On the surface, Ryan appears to have overlooked telling one of his veteran leaders about a lineup change, putting Alexander in the awkward position of having to answer questions about losing his job. Ryan tried to wiggle out of the mess he created Thursday when he said Lawson, Alexander and Jerry Hughes are all "starters" as part of a three-man rotation.

4. Will Stephon Gilmore get his wish? The Bills' top cornerback said he "wishes" he'd get the chance to match up with Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown. The Bills usually have their cornerbacks play one half of the field, and with Ronald Darby returning this week from a concussion, it would be a surprise if Gilmore followed Brown everywhere. Still, there will be times when the two go up against each other.

5. How many Steelers fans make the trip? Pittsburgh has a reputation for having some of the best fans in the NFL, and one of the reasons is how well they travel. With it being just a three-hour ride, and their team in the thick of the AFC North race, expect plenty of black and yellow inside New Era Field on Sunday. Will there be so many Steelers fans that the Bills' offense can be disrupted? That might depend on how many season-ticket holders decided to dump Sunday's game.

 

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