The no-longer undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers are set to hit the road to take on the Buffalo Bills on "Sunday Night Football" at Bills Stadium. Last year these two teams played in Pittsburgh with the Bills getting the victory 17-10. Of course, the Steelers started Devlin Hodges, and, predictably, he was poor and threw four interceptions in the loss. Josh Allen accounted for only 167 yards of total offense, but it was enough to get the win.
Perhaps it was the scheduling spot or just a rough patch, but Pittsburgh lost to Washington 23-17 on Monday night. The Steelers threw it over 50 times for the second straight week in the loss. The defense allowed the most points it has surrendered since Week 8's 24 against the Ravens. They were without running back James Conner once again, but it's not like he's been spectacular for this one-dimensional offense.
The Bills, meanwhile, made their second trip to Arizona in just over a month last Monday as they beat up on San Francisco 34-24. Allen threw for a dazzling 375 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. For the fourth time this season, Cole Beasley was the leading receiver with 130 yards. The defense forced a pair of Nick Mullens interceptions in the victory as well. The unit has improved a bit since their Week 11 bye.
Sunday Night Football: Pittsburgh at Buffalo
Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 13 at 8:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Bills -2.5
Three Things to Watch
The Steelers are playing their third game in 11 days and their first road game since Nov. 22 when they played in Jacksonville. One has to wonder how much the schedule will catch up to them on Sunday. It'll be interesting to see how much energy the team has in the third and fourth quarters. They close with three of their final four contests on the road. Buffalo is also playing on the short week as they played on Monday as well. The Bills have a pair on the road after this, with the next contest in Denver against the Broncos on Saturday. Focus shouldn't be an issue for the home team.
2. Can you run it?
The Steelers opened up the year with three straight 100-yard rushing performances from Benny Snell Jr. and Conner. Since then, they've added just one in Week 6 when they hosted the Browns. Over the last six weeks, Conner put up 89 yards, and that was the team's high with four performances of 50 yards or fewer from a running back. You can run on the Bills, as they allow 126.0 rushing yards per contest, ninth most in the NFL. They are 20th against the pass, but the Steelers have to have some sort of balance to keep them honest. We'll see if the return of Conner to the lineup will do anything.
On the other side, the Bills have been using Devin Singletary and Zack Moss as their main backs. This team has not had a single 100-yard rushing game, with Allen leading the team on four separate occasions. Pittsburgh has the sixth-best rush defense at 100.7 yards per game. We'll see how Allen handles the blitz that the Steelers do so well.
3. Who gets the spotlight on Sunday night?
Both of these teams have a multitude of weapons in the passing game. The Steelers have had five different players lead the team in receiving, with James Washington adding his name to the list last week at 80 receiving yards. Diontae Johnson has gotten the most love from Ben Roethlisberger, but Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron have also been key pieces. It'll be interesting to see where Bills All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White goes and if he shadows Johnson or Claypool on the outside.
For Buffalo, they've been pretty good without their No. 2 wide receiver John Brown. Rookie Gabriel Davis has stepped up in his absence, and Beasley has been magnificent out of the slot. Of course, Stefon Diggs has been one of the best acquisitions of any team in the league. The Steelers' secondary is really strong, although Joe Haden is struggling with a concussion he suffered on Monday.
The Steelers are probably the better team here, but I really wonder how they will be in their third game in this condensed timeframe. The Titans played three games in 12 days earlier in the season and lost the third game of the group to Pittsburgh. Buffalo has plenty of momentum, and I think it carries over here as they hand Pittsburgh their second straight loss.
Prediction: Bills 24, Steelers 20
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.