I can't see a better path to the postseason than the Buffalo Bills have right in front of them Sunday night. You simply don't lose a game like this. Not after winning at Dallas on Thanksgiving for a third consecutive victory and ninth overall. Not after battling toe-to-toe with the Baltimore Ravens and declaring afterward that you expect to see them again – in the playoffs. Not with Devlin Hodges, an undrafted rookie, starting at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in prime time and showing the limitations that caused the entire NFL to pass him up. Sure, a loss would still leave the Bills one win away from the postseason, but would it really feel that close? Bills, 20-17.
Everyone is talking this week about how good the Steelers are on defense. That’s well deserved – they are good. So are the Bills, though. In fact, they’re better. Buffalo is allowing 16.3 points per game – second in the NFL. The Steelers are at 18.6, which is sixth. If both defenses do their thing, it comes down to the quarterback. Josh Allen, the seventh overall pick of the 2018 draft, has to be better than Pittsburgh’s Devlin Hodges, who went undrafted in April. I believe Allen will be, which will produce a playoff-clinching victory and a celebration in Western New York. Bills, 23-17.
It's hard to imagine anything but a defensive struggle. The over-under on combined punts for the two teams is 14. I watched the Arizona-Pittsburgh game and thought Kyler Murray looked flustered against the Steelers' defense. He missed a lot of open throws. I think Josh Allen will do better. Not great, but better. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has scored five offensive TDs in the last five games. I cannot pick a rookie QB named Duck against this Buffalo defense. Bills, 15-12.
The Bills are on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth, even after a loss to the Ravens, a Super Bowl favorite, while the Steelers have survived – and somehow recently thrived – with a third-string quarterback from Samford University who goes by the nickname Duck. Both defenses are among the NFL's best, but the Steelers and the Bills have the two lowest-scoring offenses among the 12 teams currently in a playoff spot. It's going to be a low-scoring affair, but if the Bills lose this game, they seemingly face a tougher path to earning a playoff berth coming off back-to-back losses and going to New England. Steelers, 20-14.