The Buffalo Bills are the new New England Patriots — winning it all in the AFC East. For years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been doing the same in the AFC North. All of that leads to the Steelers and Bills playing each other annually during the regular season until one doesn’t win their respective division.
The teams have gone head-to-head twice in as many seasons since the Bills selected quarterback Josh Allen 7th-overall in the 2018 NFL draft. Both contests ended up in losses for the Steelers.
Though taking a loss is never a good thing, the 2020 outcome was a harrowing one. After starting the season undefeated at 11-0, Pittsburgh dropped its second consecutive game to a Bills team that was on a roll.
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Here are some reasons why the outcome of this Bills matchup could be different for the Steelers.
It’s Week 1
The Steelers have a new, never-seen-before offense. Sure, there was the preseason, but all teams hold their schemes close to their vest until it matters. It’s anticipated that new coordinator Matt Canada’s offense will be night-and-day different than what teams are used to seeing from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It was late in the season, Week 14, when Pittsburgh took on the Bills last season. The season-long momentum they rode had stalled after a deflating first loss of the season to the Washington Football Team the week before.
Because of the disaster that was the Baltimore Ravens COVID outbreak last November, the Steelers had been through three scheduling changes in one week, resulting in three games in 12 days. And with no traditional bye week (thanks to the early-season COVID outbreak in Tennessee Titans camp), the Steelers had played 12 consecutive games without a real break and were mentally and physically gassed in Buffalo.
Steelers Are (Relatively) Healthy
Not only were they gassed, but Pittsburgh was also hurting. The team was down four key defensive players that could’ve made all the difference in the outcome if healthy.
The Steelers were without linebackers Devin Bush and Bud Dupree who were both on injured reserve. Cornerback Joe Haden was concussed in their loss to Washington and ruled out. The in-game performance of Steven Nelson, playing on the other side of Haden, was hampered by a knee injury.
After a Week 6 ACL injury that required season-ending surgery, Bush is back and looking to prove his worth on that Steelers defensive front. Dupree and Nelson are now with the Titans and Eagles, but the Steelers have who they hope to be exemplary replacements in Alex Highsmith and Cameron Sutton.
Pittsburgh is without Stephon Tuitt and Zach Banner who are both on short-term IR.
Week 1 Results History
It’s a mixed bag of results when it comes to the Steelers recent Week 1 win-loss record. With two losses to the New England Patriots and one annoying tie with the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh is 3-2-1 in six seasons.
With the distraction of T.J. Watt’s contract behind them and a brand-spankin’ new offense to unveil, the Steelers should be raring to go in hopes of starting the 2021 season off on a high note.