Steelers vs Bills: Predicting Kenny Pickett’s stats in his first NFL start
Kenny Pickett is preparing to start his first game in the NFL. Here’s how the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback could fare against a strong Bills defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers fans are stoked to watch Kenny Pickett in his starting debut. After Mitch Trubiksy struggled once again in Week 4 against the New York Jets, Mike Tomlin made the decision to bench him at halftime and roll with the rookie. Despite three second-half interceptions, Pickett looked promising in his first NFL action, but it’s going to be a trial by fire in his first NFL start.
While we are all excited about Pickett getting the opportunity to take over the reins and perhaps lead this team to more success in 2022, I’m not thrilled about the timing. Pickett’s first start will be against an unforgiving Buffalo Bills defense on the road before games against the Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Eagles.
Tomlin will no doubt ask Pickett to take it one game at a time, and right now, the focus is on the Bills. But what will the rookie quarterback be able to do in his first start against a very talented Bills defense?
Pickett will air it out but don’t expect perfection from the Steelers QB
I’m as excited as anyone to watch Kenny Pickett in his debut with a full week of reps with the starters under his belt. He certainly gave the Steelers offense a spark last week after coming in for Trubisky. However, opposing quarterbacks have been horrible against the Bills so far, and it’s going to be hard to expect Pickett to be the player that breaks this trend.
So far through 4 games, the Bills are tied for 1st in total yards allowed on defense — giving up just 234.5 yards per contest, according to Team Rankings. What’s perhaps even more concerning for Pickett is that Buffalo is allowing just 150.8 passing yards per game. This is by far the best mark in the NFL entering Week 5.
Meanwhile, Trubisky was able to muster up just over 189 passing yards per game with the Steelers during his first three contests, but we are obviously hoping for better results with Pickett at the helm.
Predicting Pickett’s stats vs Bills
What we saw last week was encouraging, and I think that Pickett will continue to show signs of life we previously didn’t see. However, I wouldn’t expect a clean debut from the rookie quarterback. ESPN currently has Pickett projected with a stat line of 23/37 for 242 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. They also have him chipping in 3 carries for 11 yards on the ground.
I’m going to be a bit more optimistic with my prediction. I think that Pickett’s stat line could look more like 27/40 for 266 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. I also have Pickett carrying the ball 5 times for 20 yards.
In a game that could see Buffalo take an early lead, the Steelers will be forced to fight back through the air. While 266 yards would be over 100 yards more than the Bills are currently surrendering and would be the highest number a Steelers QB has put up since Week 14 of last season, I think Pickett accomplishes that thanks to his willingness to hang tough in the pocket and look for receivers over the middle of the field.
In the end, I still have the Steelers losing this contest 31-20, but I think this will prove to be a step in the right direction for Pittsburgh’s offense and Pickett’s performance will give fans a reason to be optimistic moving forward.