GAME PREDICTIONS

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NFL analysts' game predictions | Bills at Steelers in Week 15

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MDS's take: I admire the way the Steelers have remained in playoff contention while starting a third-string undrafted rookie quarterback in Devlin Hodges. But I think Hodges is going to have a rough night against a good Bills defense.

MDS's pick: Bills 14, Steelers 7.

Florio's take: Once again, the Steelers aren't the better team. Once again, the Steelers will play like they are.

Florio's pick: Steelers 16, Bills 13.

This Sunday night game is enormous for both teams. The Bills are coming off a physical loss to the Ravens, but they did a nice job on Lamar Jackson. Defending Devlin Hodges will be a lot easier. Josh Allen will have a tough go of it against the Steelers defense as well, but I think Buffalo will make a few more plays to win it.

Pick: Bills 19, Steelers 14

Buffalo Bills (+2) at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers remain in the AFC playoff race almost entirely because of their defense. The unit has allowed just 18.6 points and 310.9 yards per game; as a result, the team has won seven of its last eight games.

Seeing Pittsburgh as a home favorite over the Buffalo Bills isn't a surprise.

However, Buffalo has a tremendous defense of its own—just 16.3 points per game allowed—and a strong rushing attack that travels well. The Bills should have a good chance to pull off the upset here.

The variable will be Bills quarterback Josh Allen. When the second-year man plays efficient football, Buffalo is hard to stop. When he doesn't, strong team performances can still result in losses.

Against the white-hot Baltimore Ravens, for example, Allen completed just 43.6 percent of his passes, took six sacks and fumbled twice, losing one. Buffalo lost by a touchdown.

A good day from Allen should be enough to get Buffalo a win and a guaranteed spot in the postseason.

What to watch for: The Steelers' offense figures to be its healthiest since the Monday night win against the Dolphins in late October, though JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss another game. James Conner practiced this week, and against a Bills defense ranked No. 3 in yards allowed per game, the Steelers need as many weapons at their disposal as possible. -- Brooke Pryor

Bold prediction: The Steelers have won the turnover battle in all but two games this season. But the Bills not only will win the turnover battle Sunday night, their defense will score its first touchdown of the season. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

What's at stake: The Bills can clinch a playoff spot, their second in three seasons, with a win. The Steelers need a win to continue fighting off the Texans and the surging Titans, though. They have a 59% chance to make the playoffs, per FPI.

Louis-Jacques' pick: Bills 17, Steelers 7

Pryor's pick Steelers 10, Bills 7

Bills (+2) over Steelers: It's probably time to quit thinking about what the Steelers can't do and appreciate the job Mike Tomlin is doing getting the most out of what he has. But I do think the Bills are pretty good as well. If the Steelers win here, that's a huge step toward getting a wild-card spot.

Bills at Steelers (-2) — The Bills are clearly not in the Ravens' class, but they are better than the Steelers. Josh Allen wills them to a win. BILLS

It may not have the wow factor of matchups between two great offenses, but a face off between the Bills (9-4) and the Steelers (8-5) should have thrills of a different nature thanks to the strengths of two top-tier defensive teams, both used to having their defenses carry the burden.

Pittsburgh is currently hanging on to the second wild-card spot in the A.F.C. by just a tiebreaker, and the Steelers would improve their chances of making the playoffs to 90 percent with a win, according to The Upshot, while their chances would plummet to 39 percent with a loss. That certainly gives them more motivation than the Bills, who have greater than a 90 percent chance of earning a wild-card berth either way.

It will likely come down to which offense can find a way to score a few touchdowns, and it is hard to look at both teams and not come away with the impression that the Bills simply have more scoring options. 

Pick: Bills +2

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