NFL Game of the Week: Steelers vs. Bills

Story posted September 10, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Emma Holtz

Hide your folding tables and wave those Terrible Towels - it’s a battle of the border states at Highmark Stadium when the Buffalo Bills face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.

Projected as a 6½-point favorite heading into Sunday, the Bills charge into the matchup with breakout quarterback Josh Allen at the helm. The NFL’s passing statistics for 2020 recorded Allen ranked fifth with a career high 4,544 yards. He narrowly missed the fourth spot by a mere 37 yards behind Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

An important note about the Bills’ offense is its star-studded cast of returning players hungry for another Super Bowl chase. The offense operates primarily in the passing game with wide receiver Stefon Diggs as a target favorite. Allen targeted Diggs 166 times in 2020 with about 12.1 yards per reception.

For fantasy managers lucky enough to snatch Diggs in their drafts, hefty numbers and production are to be expected. In other words, Diggs will be the Pittsburgh defense’s greatest worry. For the running game, starting running back Devin Singletary will have some competition for carries with second-year Zack Moss and fifth-year Matt Breida.

Black and Gold faithful received good news in the form of Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt’s colossal contract extension. According to ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Watt received a $112 million contract over four years.

Watt’s anything-but-modest payday, coming out to about $28-million per year, elevates him to be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

Sports analysts and Steelers fans alike appreciate Watt’s contributions to Pittsburgh’s defensive makeup. With a career-high 23 tackles-for-loss and 43 solo tackles in 2020, Watt made a case for Defensive Player of the Year only to be edged out by Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Other notable names to return to the Steelers’ defense include defensive tackle Cameron Heyward in his tenth season with Pittsburgh, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and linebacker Devin Bush Jr.

Under the watchful eye of defensive coordinator Keith Butler, the Steelers will look to thwart the Bills’ chances of gaining a strong lead early in the game and hold passing efficiency to a minimum.

On the defensive side, the Bills bring an established defensive line core to the field to face the Steelers’ offense. With 119 solo and assisted tackles to his name in 2020, inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds goes into his fourth Week 1 with the Bills ready to snuff Steelers’ offensive hopes.

Leslie Frazier, defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Bills, also commented on defensive tackle Ed Oliver as a player to look for as a possible breakout.

Oliver transitions into year three in the NFL after being drafted ninth overall in 2019. Oliver posted 23 solo tackles and six tackles for loss in 2020.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will once again don jersey #7 on the field again against the Buffalo defense. While Roethlisberger will work with a relatively steady receiving corps in wide receivers Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster, all eyes will be on running back Najee Harris.

Harris’ history with the Alabama Crimson Tide organization and NFL preseason showing broke him through to the No. 7 spot in DraftKings’ non-PPR Week 1 fantasy running back list.

Die-hard fans of both Bills Mafia and Steelers Nation will be huddled around the television or live in the stands this weekend to enjoy what the AFC North vs. AFC East matchup has to offer.

Fantasy managers: get ready for the fantasy stress to begin again.

 

Emma Holtz is a second-year majoring in public relations. To contact her, email exh5337@psu.edu.