Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Buffalo Hunt

Artist rendition of Steelers' expected pass rush

So, this week the Steelers go up to what the networks only refer to as Western New York State to play the Bills. On paper this looks like it should be a cakewalk, but Buffalo might just be the best 2-8 team if all time. All season they have been competitive most weeks, and just haven't been able to close the deal. Watching them come back on the Bengals (who the Steelers had to hold on against) made me nervous for the fate of the defensive back corps of the ol' Black and Gold. The plan going in most weeks is to pass rush and hope the linebackers are able to murder the QB, because if the ball makes it past the line of scrimmage things get interesting. Any pass not thrown in the vicinity of #43 has a better than average chance of going for a big play if not a TD. McFadden can at least put a hit on a guy to make him think twice about going for a tough pass, but Will Allen is made of glass and Ryan Clark's blood turns into toxic waste if he's in an area with higher elevation than say, Florida or Kansas.

That is not to say all is without hope. Buffalo's D is, to put it mildly, not that great. If it comes down to a QB battle, I'll be comfortable with Ben as long as he doesn't get distracted by the Bills' cheerleaders. Mendenhall should have a good game as long as Bruce Arians doesn't get it in his head that the key to winning the game is passing 60 times a game. Considering he owes his continued employment to the QB going to bat for him, this unfortunately can't be completely ruled out.

Coaching wise, the Steelers seem to have the edge. No one's ever lost sleep over the thought of facing a Chan Gailey coached team, and now that Wesley's in jail that makes Mike Tomlin the coolest brotha in the free world. A lot of teams would have self destructed having one of their defensive MVPs chosen as the poster boy for new rules enforcement, but that's not the case when your team is being run by the coaching equivalent of Marcellus Wallace. He just tells them to cool the fuck down, cause he's sending in the Wolf.

Kicking wise, well "Swish" (as the media here has taken to call him) may be no better than Reed when it comes to actual kicking, he's not a headcase so at least the area paper towel dispensers are safe. I will miss Reed's nonsensical ramblings after his latest shank, but I'm sure some other team desperate for a kicker will pick him up. Also on special teams, the Steelers finally have replaced "Fair Catch" Randle El with the tandem of Sanders and Brown who seem to be getting closer every week to breaking a 90+ return.

My pick: Steelers 35-28, only after Buffalo gets some garbage points at the end.

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