Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1)
The Bills won a close game over the Ravens last week, but that was an anomaly for this team over the past two seasons, as they previously were 0-7 in one-score games since the start of last season, including playoffs. The flip side of that is all 14 of their wins over the past two seasons, including playoffs, came by 12 points or more, prior to last week’s 3-point victory in Baltimore. Even with last week’s win taken into account, the Bills have an average margin of victory of 22.1 points per game, leading to them ranking 1st in schedule adjusted efficiency in each of the past two seasons.
That suggests this should be another blowout for the Bills, at home against a Steelers team with a mediocre offense and a defense that is not nearly as good without TJ Watt. The Steelers are just 1-3, rank 23rd in schedule adjusted efficiency, and could be 0-4 if they didn’t win a game week one in which the Bengals turned the ball over five times and missed two makeable game winning kicks, also the only game of the season in which Watt played. That being said, this line is all the way up to 14 and this game actually could be closer than people think, for a couple reasons.
For one, the Bills are not nearly at full strength due to injury. Already without arguably their two best defensive backs Tre’Davious White and Micah Hyde, they’ll be without their third star defensive back Jordan Poyer this week, while tight end Dawson Knox and slot receiver Jamison Crowder are out and every down linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips are highly questionable.
The Bills are also in a tough spot with a much bigger game against the Chiefs on deck, with favorites of more than a touchdown covering at just a 42% rate all-time before facing an opponent with a winning percentage 50% higher than their current opponent, which is likely to be the case here. I can’t take the Steelers with any confidence unless all of the questionable Bills are out, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes either way, with the Bills banged up and likely to overlook this game, in between a big win against the Ravens and a game against the Chiefs next week.
Buffalo Bills 26 Pittsburgh Steelers 13
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +14