The Buffalo Bills will face the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday in a battle of six-loss teams. It’s the long-awaited return for rookie QB E.J. Manuel, and he will face off against a Pittsburgh team that is 7-2 in their last nine games against a rookie QB. Luckily for Manuel and the Bills, perhaps, is that this isn’t your father’s, or even your older brother’s, Steelers.
The usual hard-nosed, smash mouth Steelers teams of the past have been transformed into a soft team that can’t run or stop the run. The Steelers have looked like a shell of themselves this season, and last week, they hit rock bottom against the New England Patriots. They gave up 55 points and 610 yards of offense in New England. Of course, the Bills don’t have the offense of the Patriots, but they do have the NO. 6 rushing attack in the league and will likely try and pound it right down the Steelers’ throats. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars have given up more yards on the ground this season.
So, which Pittsburgh team shows up Sunday? Mike Tomlin and Troy Polamalu have spoken out this week about how embarrassed they were after their shellacking at the hands of the Pats last week. The question is whether or not the team has the talent on either side of the ball to overcome the embarrassment. It’s not clear right now if they do. As shocking as this statement would have been if I said it at the beginning of the year, I can’t even tell you which team on the field Sunday in Pittsburgh is actually the better team.
The Bills may have an advantage in this one, because the Steelers aren’t good at stopping the things that they do well — for example, rushing the ball and putting pressure on the QB. On the flip side, the Bills’ biggest weakness is stopping the run, but the Steelers have the 26th rush offense in the league. If Manuel can shake the rust off quickly and the Bills can put some early points on the board, the uphill battle may be too steep for this version of the Steelers.