The Bills are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Steelers' poor season hit another new low, getting whipped by the New England Patriots. Playoff hopes look dim for both teams, but a win will go a long way toward improving morale.
Meet the Pittsburgh Steelers
What's worse than losing to the Oakland Raiders? Probably setting a franchise record for most points allowed the very next week. The Patriots hung 55 points on the Steelers, leading to questions about defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's ability to build a competitive defense in the modern NFL. The offense has its own problems -- Antonio Brown was benched during the fourth quarter for poor performance.
The Steelers are now 2-6 and their divisional title hopes are all but dead. It's fair to wonder if the coaching staff will see any shakeup after missing the playoffs two years in a row.
Meet the Buffalo Bills
The good news for Buffalo is that E.J. Manuel should be coming back this week. He's the rookie quarterback the Bills were hoping to develop in 2013, but Manuel's knee injury derailed those plans. They turned to another rookie in Jeff Tuel, and the results weren't pretty. The Bills were actually leading the Chiefs at halftime thanks to a resurgent defense, but Tuel threw a back-breaking 100-yard pick-six that turned the game around.
Manuel is still a raw talent, but he's the best option the Bills offense has. Poor quarterback play has squandered an excellent effort by the defense, leading to a 3-6 record.
Local Takes: Pittsburgh Steelers
Neal Coolong from Behind The Steel Curtain believes it's time for a new direction on defense after the team's latest shellacking:
LeBeau can, and should, live on the cloud of other Steelers legends, regardless of what happens this season. He could take the high road, and leave this season amid the respect he deserves. But the continued stubborn insistence that this defense A) Has players good enough to run it and B) Works in a successful manner has now reached the point of ridiculousness.
It's fitting a unit so completely overmatched by the new elite NFL style allowed the most points in its franchise's history. Unfortunate, but fair. It may simply be time to move on.
Local Takes: Buffalo Bills
Brian Galliford from Buffalo Rumblings takes a look at the pick-six that flipped the game in Kansas City's favor:
There's a chance that Smith was supposed to sit on that underneath route the way he ultimately did, but that's exceedingly unlikely, given that Derrick Johnson was sent on a blitz. As smart as Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is, leaving a Bill completely and utterly uncovered doesn't seem like it's in his wheelhouse.
The final set of stills above (4-6) show that Graham was covered up well by nickel corner Marcus Cooper. Even if Smith hadn't landed in the throwing lane, Tuel's high throw likely would've led to an incomplete pass (which, of course, was far better than the actual outcome), or perhaps something worse like a tipped ball.
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Four out of six experts on SB Nation's panel are picking the Steelers to win. Matt Ufford and Ryan Van Bibber are the only ones picking the Bills.
The Steelers are favored by three points at home, according to OddsShark.