Steelers vs. Bills Predictions and Expert Picks for the Wild Card Round: Should You Back Josh Allen as a Heavy Favorite?

Our Steelers vs. Bills predictions break down this lopsided matchup and include our favorite bets, player props, and more.

For the first of two NFL playoff games on Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers are heavy underdogs against the Buffalo Bills. As the biggest favorites of the long weekend, giving 10 points at home, can you trust Josh Allen and this Bills team to cover such a large number? Let’s dive into our Steelers vs. Bills predictions and favorite bets for this matchup.

Steelers vs. Bills Odds

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  • Spread
    Bills -10
  • Moneyline
    Steelers +425, Bills -550
  • Total
    38.5

Steelers vs. Bills Predictions and Expert Picks

Rolfe: I am fairly confident the Bills avoid the mother of all upsets here, but winning by 10 is asking a lot. A major concern for me is the let-down element for Buffalo. Coming off the win against the Dallas Cowboys, they nearly lost to the Los Angeles Chargers the following week.

At the same time, I just do not know how effective the Steelers’ defense will be without T.J. Watt, so I am hesitant to just take the 10 points. My best play here is to tease the line to Steelers +16 and take the total up to 44.5 before taking the under.

Pick: Steelers +16, under 44.5 (-120 at DraftKings)

Soppe: Any game in the NFL with a big spread is scary, and doing it in the playoffs against Mike Tomlin is another level of playing with fire. But is it crazy?

Since Joe Brady took over for Ken Dorsey as the trigger man of this Bills offense, Buffalo is averaging 27.0 PPG, and it hasn’t been fluky. In five of those seven games, they’ve held the ball for over 35 minutes in regulation.

This game can be simple — scoring points is much easier when you have the ball, and given the playmakers on Buffalo’s sideline, reaching that number this weekend is very much in play.

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Hitting that average might be all that is needed. The Steelers are averaging 16.7 PPG this season when facing playoff teams, and while most of that came without God’s gift of recent efficiency in Mason Rudolph under center, I’m not too concerned.

Rudolph has impressed over the past three weeks, but two games came against a bottom-10 defense on a per-attempt basis, and the other came against an unmotivated Ravens defense that didn’t play to win the game.

Picks: Bills -10 (-108), Bills 1H with ML (-220 at FanDuel)

Katz: After openly acknowledging Stefon Diggs’ lack of usage ahead of last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins, the star receiver had his best game is over two months. But amidst his seven receptions for 87 yards, there were still no downfield connections.

On the season, Diggs has just 10 catches of 20+ yards. But here’s the kicker. Not one of them occurred in the month of December (or January).

In a game with a low projected point total in bad weather, this isn’t the spot where Diggs is suddenly going to break free for a deep one. If he takes a screen or breaks a tackle on a curl, so be it. That’s the only way I see us losing this.

Pick: Stefon Diggs longest reception under 22.5 yards (-115 at BetRivers)

Katz: Trying to handicap this game is difficult, but in times of chaos, value can sometimes be found where you least expect it. The total for this game reflects the pessimism in terms of offensive success, and that makes logical sense, but I’m in the business of trying to pick off a few props that have over-adjusted.

Last week in New England, we had the Jets and Patriots square off in a game that had no playoff ramifications and similarly poor weather conditions. Both teams were motivated just to end their seasons and go home.

The Patriots trailed by one possession for 12 of their 15 drives. They were playing from behind, but they were more competitive than the spread suggests the Steelers will be this week. In that game, Bailey Zappe fired 30 passes.

If Mason Rudolph flirts with that number, I like our chances. Zappe only completed 12 of those passes, but that was in part due to a 10.6 aDOT that didn’t make much sense given the conditions (he was 6-of-8 when throwing short to running backs and 6-of-22 on all other throws).

Rudolph has posted a 7.1 aDOT this season in his starts, a pattern of passing that has allowed him to complete 74.6% of his attempts. With the Bills ranking ninth in pressure rate, the fact that they own the second-lowest opponent aDOT isn’t a surprise.

Buffalo encourages dump-off passes, and Pittsburgh is likely to take them – it might just be optimal for both sides. The Bills know that they are unlikely to bleed to death via 1,000 paper cuts, while the Steelers know that if they want to pull off the upset, sustaining drives is likely their best bet.

The beauty about basing two-thirds of this SGP on the Steelers pass game is that I’m not worried about the game script. If you had to allocate the percentage chance of each of the three possible outcomes, what would they be?

  1. Bills win in a blowout
  2. Close game with neither team separating
  3. Steelers win in a blowout

For me, the first two outcomes account for at least 90% of the likelihood, and those are both supporting this ticket.

Pick: Mason Rudolph over 16.5 completions (-120 at DraftKings)

Blewis: I will also be making a player prop bet on Mason Rudolph — but in an entirely different direction.

In three games as the Steelers’ starting quarterback to end the season, Rudolph has nine attempts for 20+ yards downfield and has completed four of them for a completion percentage of 44.4%. This has come against two terrible defenses in the Bengals and Seahawks, as well as the Ravens’ backups.

If you have watched or remember these big pass plays to George Pickens and Diontae Johnson, then you’ll know that a big chunk of the yardage came after the catch.

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This is clearly not sustainable, especially against a Bills defense that only allowed two completions of 30+ yards during their five-game winning streak against the season (to Kevin Harris and Jalen Reagor, of all people). I’m betting on regression coming for Rudolph and this passing attack, especially in the form of explosive plays.

Another huge factor here is the weather forecast. Despite the game being postponed, there could be residual effects of the snowstorm engulfing western New York. That certainly plays in the favor of the under for a passing props.

Pick: Mason Rudolph longest completion under 30.5 passing yards (-122 at FanDuel)

Bearman: The biggest lesson I learned last week was that the Bills’ defense is much better than it was midseason. Josh Allen can make all of the mistakes in the world if the defense plays like it did against Miami, holding the Dolphins to 275 total yards, including under 100 yards in the second half.

The Steelers’ defense, which had the third-most takeaways this season, could keep Allen up late at night. The problem is, their offense isn’t very good, so I see this being an even lower-scoring game than the total indicates. Both teams were 11-6 to the under in the regular season, too.

Pick: Under 38.5 (-110 at FanDuel)

KEEP READING: Latest Steelers vs. Bills Weather Report

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