Week in Review: AFC Playoffs: First Round Predictions

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Nov 20, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (22) is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive end Marcell Dareus (99) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 35-8. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

#3 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #6 Buffalo Bills

QB – This is a pretty no brainer to me. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the elite QB’s in the league. He consistently makes big plays and carry’s the Steelers. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a good QB but he isn’t near the elite group yet. He started very well last year only to fade down the stretch.

RB – This one wasn’t very close to me either. The Buffalo Bills have a very good staple of running backs, especially if they get Fred Jackson back from injury. C.J. Spiller could also have a big year. With Rashard Mendenhall possibly being out most of the year, the Steelers running game will be carried by Isaac Redman. He doesn’t have the speed or big play ability either of the Bills running backs have.

WR – This one was pretty close but I have to give it to the Steelers. Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are big plays waiting to happen every snap. Emmanuel Sanders is also very dependable. For the Bills Steve Johnson is a beast, but after that they don’t have a lot to rely on.

TE – Heath Miller is one of the best all around TE’s in football. He has great hand, is a good blocker and is very dependable. The only knock on him is he doesn’t have elite speed. Scott Chandler is a good red zone target, but he wasn’t dependable enough outside of the red zone to be on the same level as Miller.

OL – This was a fairly close call because neither team has a particularly good offensive line. I’m going to give the edge to Pittsburgh but not in any significant way. The only reason I really do is because Ben can play better behind a bad O-line than Fitzpatrick can in my opinion.

On offense I have Pittsburgh winning 4 of the 5 positions but 2 of them were very close. Now lets move to the defense. I expect both to have outstanding defenses this year.

DL – I give this one to Buffalo pretty easily. Now I know Pitt runs a 3-4 and Buffalo runs a 4-3 but Pitt is starting 2 new players on the D-line in Evander Hood (Ziggy) and Steve McLendon. Brett Keisel returns to play on that line. Now Buffalo will have one of the top D-lines in the NFL. They will be starting Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mark Anderson. They also have Shawne Merriman and Chris Kelsay to rotate in at the DE positions.

LB – Pitt wins this battle. With LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison coming off the edge and Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons in the middle they have one of the best LB’er cores in the league. Buffalo has some good players in Nick Barnett, Kelvin Sheppard and Kirk Morrison but they don’t match Pittsburgh game changing ability.

Front 7 Overall – This one if very close but I would have to give it to Buffalo. That D-line is so dominant that I think it is better than the LBing core of Pittsburgh, though not by much.

DB’s – I’ll take Buffalo in this category only because I seen what I think is some age and injuries catching up with Pittsburgh last year. We all see what happened to Ike Taylor in the Denver game in the playoffs. Troy Polamalu seemed to be out of place on more plays last year than I think I have ever seen him be. Keenan Lewis also hasn’t proven himself to be a good CB yet. Buffalo has some problems at CB themselves, but rookie Stephon Gilmore has looked good in what I’ve seen so far. Aaron Williams is pretty dependable and they also have Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee which gives them good depth. Jairus Byrd and George Wilson are both very good Safeties.

On defense I have Buffalo winning 2 of the 3 unit battles and if you want to bunch the front 7 together they win both battles. Both teams will have outstanding defenses this year.Now lets look at special teams.

K – I give this one to Buffalo. I have more trust in Rian Lindell than I do Shaun Suisham.

P – Again I give this position to Buffalo. Brian Moorman is one of the better punters in the league. Jeremy Kapinos has only punted in 13 games the last 3 years.

KR/PR – Again I have to give this to the Bills. Emmanuel Sanders is a good return man but McKelvin, Spiller and Justin Rogers all can break one every time they touch the ball.

So as far as the actual game goes, it was really close and a really tough call. Pittsburgh seems to always be tough come playoff time and year in and year out one of the top contenders for the Super Bowl. However in an upset and a surprise to many I’m gonna take the Buffalo Bills to beat the Steelers in a low scoring game. I’m predicting a 17-14 win.

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