The market has Pittsburgh's trip to Buffalo as the biggest mismatch of the weekend with the home side 9.5pt favourites.
@NFLGirlUK shares her thoughts ahead of the Wild Card match-up and we pick out a couple of bets for you to have a good look at heading into Sunday's game...
The Pittsburgh Steelers have made the playoffs despite so much being stacked against them. However, they don’t have an easy Wild Card match-up against a scorching hot Buffalo Bills team, and they have to play them on the road as well. Buffalo will look to keep things rolling, as the Steelers hope to achieve an unbelievable upset.
Pittsburgh really started to turn the corner when they started Mason Rudolph under centre. They went from Kenny Pickett to Mitchell Trubisky, and neither of them did much to spark the offense. In fact, there were a ton of misses throws, three-and-outs, and an overall lack of scoring.
Everybody in Pittsburgh knew that a change was needed, but they didn’t know that Rudolph would be the guy to bring that change. Since coming in as the starter, Pittsburgh hasn’t lost a game. They beat the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, and the resting Baltimore Ravens to make the postseason.
In that stretch, Rudolph threw for 719 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Because he’s been making this passing offense respectable, defenses have to worry more about that, leaving the ground attack open for success.
Najee Harris ended the season with 1,035 yards and eight touchdowns, with backup Jaylen Warren going for 784 yards and six touchdowns. The combination of these two running backs, with an improved passing attack, makes Pittsburgh sneaky underdogs. Unfortunately, the loss of pass rusher TJ Watt and the uncertain status of Minkah Fitzpatrick could leave this defense vulnerable to a let-down.
Flipping over to the Bills, they are on fire. They went into an incredibly tough stretch of their season and just started demolishing everybody in their way.
In order, this is how the end of their season went, 32-6 win over the New York Jets, 37-34 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, 20-17 win against the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys, 24-22 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, 27-21 win against the New England Patriots, and a massive 21-14 win over the Miami Dolphins to clinch the division title and a home playoff game.
This has been an unreal stretch for a team that many people wrote off early on in the season. Quarterback Josh Allen has thrown for 4,306 yards, 29 touchdowns, and a ridiculous 18 interceptions. However, you can forget about the picks when he’s doing this much for their offense. He also ran for 524 yards and 15 additional touchdowns. When Allen is playing at his best, Buffalo is really tough to beat.
Overall, I think it’s just hard to envision this Steelers team beating the Bills on the road. Allen is on fire, and without TJ Watt to seal the edge, he might be running all over this Steelers defense.
Rudolph and the Pittsburgh offense has been great, but they aren't on the same level as this Buffalo crew is and won’t be able to keep up with them in a shootout. Look for the Bills to take over down the stretch with the ground game.
Every year on wildcard weekend, there is a game which the bookies think is just a complete mismatch and in 2024, that is this one. Pittsburgh are getting 9.5 points on the spread and is you think they pull off the big shocker and win the game straight-up, you can get them at 19/5 here at Betfred with Buffalo as short as 1/5 to move on to play another game.
The Total Points line has moved throughout the week as bad weather is expected in up state New York and 35.5 is the number as of the time of writing on Friday morning. Keep an eye on the expected conditions as if the forecast changes, that could well be an opportunity to get your money in before the market adjusts.
Bet 1 - Josh Allen to score anytime @ 20/23
In Buffalo's 17 regular season games, Josh Allen rushed for a score in 12 of them, including in five of his past six. The former first-round QB is one of the biggest weapons in the Red Zone with his legs across the league.
With the expected poor weather, the ground game will dominate and in important situation, expect #17 to call his own number.
Bet 2 - Buffalo Bills to win by between 7-12 Points @ 17/5
Yet again, I'm looking closely at that weather forecast and with the huge potential for a relatively low-scoring game in the offing, I like Buffalo to win the game by around a touchdown or slightly more.
Neither QB is going to be able to sit back in the pocket and pick the opposing secondary apart on a consistent basis. This should lead to a close game late before Buffalo find a way to finish Pittsburgh off.
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