Here are my five takes on the Buffalo Bills' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at New Era Field:
1. Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams must be dominant in the middle of the defense. This is where it will all start in this game.
The Steelers have one of the NFL's all-time greatest passers in Ben Roethlisberger, but they will look to impose their will on the Bills first with their running game and then launch their aerial attack from there.
Dareus and Williams, who weren't particularly effective in last Sunday's second-half defensive meltdown at Oakland, need to be able to win at least some of their battles against dominant Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro. Le'Veon Bell had a career-first third consecutive 100-yard rushing game in the Steelers' victory against the New York Giants last Sunday.
Although the Bills weren't exactly trampled by the Raiders' ground game, they did have issues as the day progressed. And they could have easily lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars if their power back, Chris Ivory, hadn't left the game early with a hamstring injury.
2. The secondary has to play well for an entire game. With or without Ronald Darby, who missed the Raiders' game with a concussion, the Bills have to hold up through four quarters as Roethlisberger attempts to shred them with his passing arm.
Sound impossible? It might be. Antonio Brown is the most dangerous receiver in the NFL, and the Bills just might not have anyone who is capable of covering him.
But the Bills need to do the jamming at the line that was working successfully in the early going against Oakland. They also need everyone to "be on the same page," something they repeatedly cite as a problem when they get beat for big pass plays. It will take outstanding execution and even sharper coaching to have a chance of not being overwhelmed by another ultra-potent passing game.
3. The pass rush needs to get home. Derek Carr had far too much time to operate last Sunday.
The Bills brought little pressure up the middle, and the heat that came from the outside generally allowed the Raiders' quarterback to simply step up in the pocket and make throws.
The Bills face an entirely different animal this week. Roethlisberger is the most difficult QB in the league to bring to the ground. His considerable size, strength and pocket awareness allow him to avoid being sacked or pressured to the point where he can't deliver an on-target throw.
Buffalo's pass rush needs to be persistent and highly creative with efforts to flush him from one side to the other and have defenders ready on both sides to get in his face.
4. LeSean McCoy has to carry the offense once again. McCoy is running every bit as well as at any point in a career in which he has established himself as one of the best backs to ever play the game.
There is almost no catching him after the first level, which means the Bills' offensive line will need to pick up where it left off in Oakland as far as blowing open holes. McCoy is playing with great motivation and determination that the Bills had better hope doesn't fade as their chances to reach the playoffs continue to fade.
The combination of McCoy and Mike Gillislee is as effective as any one-two running back punch in the league, and should keep the Steelers' defense off-balance throughout the game.
5. Tyrod Taylor can't have another meltdown. After giving one of the worst performances of his career last Sunday, Taylor has to somehow rebound and at least be competent for large portions against the Steelers.
He isn't likely to match what his Hall-of-Fame-bound counterpart is able to do, but he can't look as if he shouldn't be an NFL starter. And that was how he looked for the final three quarters against the Raiders.