The Steelers go to Buffalo this week as massive underdogs. Here are the players they must game plan for to have a fighting chance.
The Steelers season is at a crossroads as they head to Buffalo to face the Bills in week 5. They finally made the switch to rookie QB Kenny Pickett and are just 1-3 on the season. If they want to keep their season alive, they will have to pull off a huge upset this week as 14-point underdogs. Here are the players the Steelers must find a way to slow down if they want to compete against the Bills.
Steelers must confuse Josh Allen
The Steelers are very familiar with Bills QB Josh Allen. They have faced him three times since the Bills drafted him 7th overall in 2018. Despite the Bills having a 2-1 record against Pittsburgh in those games, Allen has struggled mightily against the Steelers defense.
He has completed just 56.3% of his passes for an average of 215 yards per game. Even worse is a putrid 5.4 yards per attempt over those three starts. The Steelers pass rush has been the catalyst for their success against him, only sacking him five times total but constantly pressuring him into poor decisions. Without T.J. Watt in the fold though, it will be much more difficult to contain Allen.
The Steelers will have to disrupt Allen by making him second-guess himself post-snap. Allen has become a much better decision-maker, but he will still give you chances to take the ball away. Trying to lure him into a tight window throw and being ready to jump it might be their best shot at creating a few turnovers.
Steelers must double Stefon Diggs
Ahkello Witherspoon may have been struggling prior to his hamstring injury in Week 3, but the Steelers sure could use him this week. Stefon Diggs is one of the very best receivers in the NFL, and he is on pace for the best season of his career to start the 2022 season. His current pace would put him at 132 receptions, 1,725 yards, and 17 touchdowns, all of which would be career bests.
None of our healthy corners have the speed to hang with Diggs in man coverage. Levi Wallace knows Diggs well from their time together in Buffalo so he may be the best option. Regardless of who the primary corner assigned to him is, there has to be a safety shading his way to keep him from winning over the top. Diggs has already had multiple 40+ yard gains this season.
The Bills receiver and tight end depth have been weakened by injury, so it should be easier to focus attention on Diggs. Hopefully, they do so.
Steelers must avoid Matt Milano
The Bills defense has been one of the best in football over the past few seasons, and 2022 has been no exception. They are top five in nearly every major category, and a big part of their success has been because of linebacker Matt Milano. His ability in coverage has been instrumental in helping an injured secondary, grading out as the #1 cover linebacker so far according to Pro Football Focus.
I generally take PFF grades with a very large grain of salt, but what I have seen of Milano this year lines up with their grade. He is on the smaller side at just 223 pounds, but even his run defense has been rather good to start the season. The Steelers have already been avoiding the middle of the field all season, but it may be smart to avoid him in coverage.
New starter Kenny Pickett likes to attack over the middle, however, so he will need to keep an eye on where Milano is at all times. Milano already has an interception return for a TD this season.
Steelers need to double-team Von Miller
Von Miller was an integral part of the Rams Super Bowl season in 2021. Instead of returning to LA in free agency this offseason, he chose to head east to Western New York. The Bills offered him $120 million dollars and an opportunity to compete for another championship. So far, he has not disappointed, piling up three sacks and helping elevate the rest of the pass rushers around him.
Miller is still a tough player to handle one-on-one for any tackle, but leaving Dan Moore on an island this week would be disastrous for the Steelers. The same game plan they used to help limit Myles Garrett in week 3 should also be utilized this week. The Bills have other rushers that may have an easier time getting to the QB, but I would much rather make someone else beat you. Giving Miller too many chances against Moore with no help is a sack-fumble waiting to happen.