The Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers are both six-loss teams heading into their Week 10 matchup in the Steel City. Both teams may have had very different expectations coming into the season, but it’s fair to say that neither team is where they want to be after the first nine weeks.
The Steelers had an off year in 2012 when they went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. They usually have bounce-back years after missing the playoffs as the last time they’ve missed back-to-back postseasons was from 1998-2000, but it hasn’t worked out that way in 2013. They’ve been ravaged by injuries, adding eight players to the season-ending injured reserve already, and have been plagued with consistency issues.
Their usually reliable defense has given up more rushing yards than all but one team — the 0-8 Jacksonville Jaguars. On the other side, they have the 28th-rushing offense in the NFL. It’s a far cry from the smash mouth style that we’ve come to expect from the Steelers.
The Bills are a different case. They had hope with rookie QB E.J. Manuel debuting this year, but Manuel has been out injured since Week 5. All signs point to an early return for Manuel this week, but the damage of his absence may have already been done. The Bills were 1-3 in his absence and also lost the game that he was injured. The most crucial loss for the Bills, however, was the important and much-needed reps that Manuel missed in his rookie season.
He will try to get the Bills on the right track when he returns this week, but the question is how much can they do with how much of the season is left?
Whoever loses the game on Sunday will already have their seventh loss of the season in Week 10. The playoffs are a long shot for both teams, but one of them will have their chances completely shot with a loss on Sunday. It’s not an enviable position for any NFL team. If the Bills can beat the Steelers on Sunday for their first win over Pittsburgh since 1999, it could say a lot about where both of these franchises are heading.
Or, it could just become a meaningless game between two bad teams.