The Steelers have the seemingly impossible task of stopping the Bills, and here are four questions that will have to be answered in this game.
The Steelers are off to a disappointing 1-3 start, and their slate of games gets even more unforgiving. It starts this week against the Bills, as the team has to find a way to score and stop the potent Buffalo offense from accumulating points. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh hasn’t excelled in either department so far.
It will be a week of intrigue for the team though, as Kenny Pickett is officially the starter. That means this week, practice, game plans, and schemes will all be designed with Pickett in mind. That doesn’t make the Bills any less imposing of a team though. Here are four questions the Steelers must answer as they take on the Bills in week five.
How healthy is the Steelers secondary
The Bills possess one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL behind Josh Allen. He can spread the ball around, attack you deep, and exploit matchups constantly. The best NFL secondaries have trouble stopping him, and the Steelers don’t currently have one of those. Worse yet, the entire secondary has shown up on the injury report this week.
Now, this doesn’t mean every member of the secondary will not play, but it means they are ailing and entering a critical week. This makes an already struggling unit that much more exploitable. Can this group get healthy? Are the backups like Arthur Maulet and James Pierre ready to step up? All of these questions will be critical to the outcome of the game.
Can the Steelers stop Allen?
As stated above, Allen is one of the premier quarterbacks in the league and a tough weapon for even elite defenses to slow down. Mike Tomlin joked this week that you need 12 or 13 defenders on the field to stop him, but he isn’t far off from the truth. He has a cannon for an arm, insane scrambling ability, and a knack for making the big play.
The Steelers defense has sunken pretty low since they handled Joe Burrow in the first week of the season. Mediocre names have looked fine against this group, and Allen is far and away the best talent they will face at quarterback to this point. The defense won’t be able to completely stifle him but finding a way to slow him down is a must in this game.
How does Pickett look
This one is a very “duh” question, but one certainly worth covering. Pickett is set to make his first start as a professional, and all eyes will be on him. He had a very hot and cold debut against the Jets, but now he has a full week behind him. This will be his offense, and he certainly faces the tough task of making plays against a decent Bills defense.
While I don’t expect perfection, I do want to see a more composed Pickett come into the game. He had a chance to shake off some nerves last week. Better yet, he already made a few mistakes that he can learn from. He doesn’t have to look like a superstar yet, but a more efficient and less mistake prone version of himself needs to be on display.
How does the Steelers offense look
More important than just what Pickett does, the offense has a chance to recreate itself with a new quarterback. Pickett provided a bit of a jolt when he entered the game, and a few names were obvious benefactors. Pat Freiermuth became a weapon all over the field while George Pickens flashed some of the elite traits that he was drafted for.
Can the rest of the group catch up and look the part? Pickett will certainly need it, as the rookie will benefit from having as many capable targets as possible. This offense was flat before, but they have a chance to shine now. How this offense jives with Pickett will likely set the stage for the remainder of the season.
The Steelers are off to a poor start, but the team has a new quarterback this week that could be a difference maker. If they want to have any shot at stopping the Bills though, they need to answer these four key questions.