The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Heinz Field and below are seven things to watch for in the game.
Keep Up With The Williams' - The Bills have several Williams' on their defense that the Steelers must be well aware of Sunday. Defense end Mario Williams is on pace to have a career year and has already recorded 11 sacks to go along with 5 quarterback hits and 29 hurries. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams also having a career year and he already has four sacks this season. Steelers fans should remember him well as he gave former guard Chris Kemoeatu fits the last time that these two teams faced each other in 2010. Last but not least is safety Aaron Williams, who has notched three interceptions this season to go along with 10 stops. It will be up to Kelvin Beachum and Ramon Foster to control the two on the Bills defensive line and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to know where the one in the secondary is.
Hi Diddle Diddle, Stop The Run Up The Middle - The Bills love to run running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson between the guards. 77% of their running plays have gone that direction this season and 50% have been labeled as going right up the middle behind center Eric Wood. The Steelers defense has struggled with runs off both guards this season, so this will certainly be a key area to watch.
Point To The First Quarter Scoreboard - The Steelers offense has started slow all season and they have produced all of 17 first quarter points in their first eight games. It is time to let Roethlisberger run the hurry-up right out of the chute in an attempt to get the team into the game quickly. Jumping out to a quick lead will do wonders and it might force the Bills away from their running game if they can get up by two scores before the first 15 minutes have expired.
Go More At Gilmore - Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore now starts on the right side and the Steelers would be wise to attack him early and often in this game. Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs threw at him 12 times and completed eight of them for 72 yards. The South Carolina Product is allowing a 70% completion ratio this season and is by far the weakest link in the Bills secondary.
Stop Letting Offenses Blow Chunks - The Steelers defense has already allowed 22 explosive plays of 20 yards or more this season. 10 of those 22 have gone for 40 or more yards and that is very uncharacteristic. Explosive plays on drives generally leads to points of some kind and for the Steelers, 98 points allowed this season by the defense happened on drives that included one or more explosive plays.
Blitz The Rookie - Bills quarterback E. J. Manuel will be back under center after missing the last four games with a knee injury. Prior to him getting injured, the rookie was not good under pressure or when blitzed, so it's time to throw the sink at him on second and third down situations when he is behind the chains. Manuel isn't likely to want to run much in just his first game back, so that too should play in favor of the Steelers defense.
Get Bell Lost In Space - The Bills defense can be beat with runs to edges, so rookie running back Le'Veon Bell needs to look for opportunities to bounce runs outside. In addition, Bell has shown that he can be a weapon in the passing game, so Roethlisberger needs to target him at least six or more times out in space if at all possible.