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AFC Wildcard Breakdown: Steelers vs. Bills

The cold never bothered them anyway.

NFL: Preseason-Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After another up and down season, two teams that were on the verge of missing the playoffs just last week, will face off in the AFC Wild Card game. The #2 Buffalo Bills (11-6) host the #7 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7) in a very COLD Highmark Stadium at 4:30 pm ET Monday. This is after the original game had to be postponed due to a snowstorm in New York.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Steelers won their last 3 regular season games (including 2 on the road) but ESPN analytics gives them only a 23.4% chance of the road upset. The Bills are coming into the game confidently after winning their last 5 games and having a home field advantage. The same ESPN model gives them a 76.6% chance to advance to the Divisional Round.

NFL: Preseason-Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bills veteran Quarterback, Josh Allen, is heading into his 9th playoff start. Allen and his offense finished the season ranked sixth in scoring. Unfortunately, they have also struggled with turnovers. They have given up the ball at least once in all but one of their games this season. Allen grappled with four picks and three fumbles in their last three games. Despite their turnover woes, they have still found a way to win thanks to Allen’s ability to make big plays and the running abilities of Running Back James Cook. The Bills will need Cook even more with the absence of wideout Gabe Davis who has been ruled out with a knee injury. The Bills will continue to rely on their strong defense. Sacks and interceptions are their strong suit. They finished the regular season with 54 sacks and 18 interceptions. They’ll also need their special teams to be on point in a game where weather could play a huge factor. Bills kicker, Tyler Bass finished the season just 82.8% on field goal attempts.

Conversely, Steelers Quarterback, Mason Rudolph, is facing his first career playoff start. He has been counted on for short, safe passes this season. The running game has been the Steelers go-to averaging 145.2 rushing yards per game. Their strong running game is mostly due to the incredible RB duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. They finished the season with 1035 and 784 rushing yards respectively. The pair are arguably one of the best combos of the 2023 season. The Steelers will also rely on special teams including one of the best kickers in the league, Chris Boswell. Boswell went 93.5% on field goal attempts this season.

Will the game play as scheduled on Monday? How much will the home field advantage help? Which team will keep their win streak alive? Anything can happen in a Wild Card game! But my prediction: a defensive game that comes down to special teams.

Bills 17 - Steelers 9.