GAME PREDICTIONS

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Game predictions | Bills vs. Steelers | Week 5

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The Bills are 14-point favorites against the Pittsburgh Steelers according to Caesars Sportsbook.

Here's a list of game predictions from NFL analysts.

The biggest point spread of the season scares me. Kenny Pickett showed plenty in the preseason and his unlucky half against the Jets makes me believe he'll use Pittsburgh's wideouts better than Mitchell Trubisky did. The best way to destroy the Steelers' defense is to run all over it, but that's not the Bills' game, so this one could stay relatively too close for comfort for a minute.

Prediction: Bills 31, Steelers 22

MDS's take: The Steelers are two-touchdown underdogs in what is shaping up to be one of their worst seasons in the last half-century. They'll keep it slightly closer than two touchdowns, but the Bills will win comfortably.

MDS's pick: Bills 30, Steelers 20.

Florio's take: The Steelers are the last team since the merger to be 14-point underdogs. They're not good enough to win. But they're good enough to cover.

Florio's pick: Bills 27, Steelers 17.

Two things stood out with quarterback Kenny Pickett in his NFL debut last week against the Jets:

  1. For better or worse, he's going to let it rip.
  2. He's going to make some plays with his legs.

But this is a tough spot for the Steelers. They're sloppy on offense, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada has not shown that he'll give them any kind of an edge schematically. Pickett will be going up against a talented defense with veteran coaches in Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Maybe he'll make some second-reaction plays, and their receivers will win some one-on-one matchups, but I don't see this going well for Pickett.

On the other side of the ball, the Steelers have looked like a mediocre defense without T.J. Watt, and star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury.

I generally don't like going against Mike Tomlin when he's an underdog, but the Bills never take their foot off the gas. This one could get ugly.

The pick: Bills (-14)

This is a tough way for Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett to make his debut. The Bills do have injury issues on defense, but they still have a talented front that can make life miserable for Pickett. The Buffalo offense has slowed some the past two games, but this is a chance to get it going again. Look for Josh Allen to have a good day as the Bills spoil Pickett's debut.

Pick: Bills 33, Steelers 17

This isn't a best bet given the uncertainty under center for the Steelers, but it has been gnawing at my brain since the line opened.

It's hard to overstate how mediocre Mitchell Trubisky was as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback. He ranks 24th of 32 quarterbacks in Total QBR this season and has seen his teams score exactly as many points per game as you would expect — no more, no less — since he was drafted in 2017. That puts him 32nd among 45 qualified passers during that span. On Sunday against the New York Jets, he was pulled in the second half in favor of rookie Kenny Pickett, who promptly completed 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards, although he also threw three interceptions.

That doesn't sound great, but the Steelers scored almost five more points than expected with Pickett under center, compared with nine points fewerthan expected with Trubisky. In other words, even with the three turnovers, Pickett turned the offense around. That came after Pickett had no reps with the first-team offense and was hastily thrown into the game, so I would expect improvement going forward.

Based on my power ratings, I have this game as Bills -11½. If Pickett starts, as Coach Mike Tomlin said he would, I think Steelers +14 is worth a look.

Lean: Pittsburgh Steelers +14

Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett took over for Mitch Trubisky last week during the Steelers' loss to the Jets. Despite throwing three interceptions in his debut, Pickett gets the starting job this week. The market is not yet convinced that Pickett is much of an upgrade — the Bills are currently 14-point favorites. That's a big number and enough to attract 65 percent of the money so far on Pittsburgh. The Bills are coming off back-to-back closely fought games that may have taken a lot out of them. The Steelers are 0-7 without T.J. Watt in the lineup.

Pick: Bills -14

The Steelers are turning to rookie Kenny Pickett for his first NFL start over former Bills backup QB Mitchell Trubisky. Look for Pickett to be competitive with his moxie and fearless passing against a banged-up secondary. The Bills will be fine grinding this game away with a more run-leaning attack and leave the backdoor open for the young passer opposite Allen.

Pick: Bills win 31-19 but fail to cover the spread.

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