Before the Week 18 games kicked off last Saturday, this was quite the improbable matchup for Wild Card weekend. Take into account what needed to happen for each team to earn the seed they did.
- Pittsburgh needed to win at Baltimore
- Tennessee needed to beat Jacksonville
- Buffalo needed to win at Miami
All three happened, so here we are. Buffalo, on the heels of a five-game winning streak, are AFC East champs for the fourth year in a row. Pittsburgh won 10 games despite an offense that struggled so badly that offensive coordinator Matt Canada was fired midseason. There was even whispers among fans and local media in Pittsburgh that head coach Mike Tomlin was wearing out his welcome after embarrassing home losses to Arizona and New England. But the Steelers won their final three games with third-string quarterback Mason Rudolph to earn a trip to Highmark Stadium to take on Buffalo. In the process, Tomlin extended his streak of non-losing NFL seasons as head coach to 17.
Buffalo struggled similarly, firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey as well after a loss to Denver dropped them to 5-5. The only loss after that was an overtime defeat at Philadelphia. The Bills ended the season with wins over the likes of Kansas City, Dallas, and Miami.
We have a look at the best bets off of the Steelers vs. Bills odds for Sunday afternoon’s contest.
STEELERS VS. BILLS ODDS: The Over Is a Tantalizing Bet
A manageable over-under total of 36.5 (-110, FanDuel) has been set for this playoff contest.
The Bills should be able to hold their own as far as scoring goes. Since the change to Joe Brady as offensive coordinator, Buffalo has scored at least 20 points in every game and eclipsed 30 on three occasions.
The Steelers had a run of going over the total in four straight games snapped last week in a 17-10 win at Baltimore. In games against Cincinnati and Seattle, Rudolph helped the Steelers top the 30-point mark for the only two times this season.
The teams have also played in each of the last three regular seasons in Buffalo. The Bills are 2-1 in those games, but the point totals were, in order, 41, 39, and 41. This also happened the last time the teams met.
We’re expecting this trend to continue by going over a reasonable number.
As Heavy Underdogs, Expect the Steelers to Hang Around
This could actually be a more dangerous matchup for Buffalo, despite the Steelers being technically the weakest team in the AFC playoffs.
That’s because while the Bills have largely taken care of business in their big games, they have struggled to win big when expected to.
Buffalo is -10 at all major NY sportsbooks. The Bills were double-digit favorites four times this year. Buffalo won all four of those games, but they were all victories by six points or fewer. In reality, the team was lucky to come away with wins in three of them.
- The Giants fell victim to a no-call on potential pass interference in the end zone on the final play.
- Tampa Bay barely missed a Hail Mary attempt that would’ve won the game.
- The Bills won in Los Angeles over the Chargers thanks to a last-minute field goal.
- Buffalo trailed New England in Week 17 after the first play of the game when the Patriots returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
While Josh Allen showed incredible poise this year in several difficult wins, he has been prone to errors. For one, he threw 18 interceptions. Two of those came in the first half in Miami last week with the Bills threatening to score on each occasion. Before halftime, Allen threw short of the end zone with no time outs. The Bills were stopped at the 1-yard line and came away with no points, trailing 14-7 at halftime.
Of course, Allen came through with many clutch plays in the fourth quarter on the way to a 21-14 win.
But the Bills’ inability to impose their will and take control of a game when the opportunity presents will continue on Sunday, as it has all season.
We see the Bills advancing, but it will be closer than the oddsmakers expect.
The Pick: Buffalo 24-16