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Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers prediction

The Bills return to Orchard Park to host Kenny Pickett in his first career start in week five

BUFFALO, NY (10-6-2022) - Last week, both the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers made NFL headlines with one team pulling off a 17-point comeback while the other introduced someone who they hope is the future of their franchise.

The Bills defeated the Baltimore Ravens last week at M&T Stadium, 23-20. Quarterback Josh Allen led the charge with 213 passing yards, one passing touchdown, a 52.8 completion percentage and a 68.4 passer rating. On the ground, Allen had 70 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. The defense held Ravens' QB Lamar Jackson to 144 passing yards, one passing touchdown, a 68.9 completion percentage and a 63 passer rating. While Jackson established himself as an early MVP candidate, their opponent's quarterback wants to have early success in his first time as the starter.

The Steelers lost to the New York Jets 24-20 and made a change under center. Pittsburgh Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett made his NFL debut in the second half when the team was down 10-6. Pickett recorded 120 passing yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions and a 76.9 completion percentage. His only scores resulted from two rushing touchdowns at the goal line.

Despite the loss, Pittsburgh fans like Louise Boyd feel confident in Pickett when they told KDKA-TV after the game saying, "Pickett is a good choice,"Boyd said. "He kind of puts me in the mind of Terry Bradshaw when he first started."

The Steelers drafted Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft out of the University of Pittsburgh. For the first four games, Mitchell Trubinsky started under center, recording 653 passing yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, a 59.4 completion percentage and a 73.7 rating. On the ground he rushed for 24 yards and one touchdown. For the Bills, this switch isn't something they expected but the defense showed they can be ready for the rookie.

Since 2018, the Bills have a 5-3 record against rookie quarterbacks in the regular season. However, injuries appear to be once again a concern as safety Jordan Poyer has been ruled Friday by head coach Sean McDermott. However, Bills rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam showed he can be a lockdown corner as in the past two games he only allowed 2 receptions for 20 yards.

Defensive tackles Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver were limited after missing the last two weeks with hamstring and ankle injuries respectively. They're both listed as questionable but can make their returns Sunday and it can give them a better chance to hold back Pickett as the Steelers o-line allowed two sacks a game on average so far.

Pittsburgh also have key players riddled with injuries, especially with their secondary. Defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee) and Terell Edmunds (concussion) had limited participation the past two days. If any of those guys are ruled out, it could give receivers Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Kahlil Shakir better opportunites break through and make plays down the field.

The Bills biggest advantage comes from the abscence of T.J Watt, the reigning defensive player of the year. Last time these teams played, he had three tackles, two sacks, one tackle for a loss and five QB hits which helped the Steelers upset the Bills 23-16 in Orchard Park. In week one of the current season, he suffered a pectoral injury and was placed on injured reserve. His abscene, along with the return of center Mitch Morse gives the o-line a better chance at protecting Allen and opening holes for Devin Singletrary.

The results of this game will depend on the how the o-line proctects Allen, how the d-line pressures Pickett and how guys like Shair and Elam can continue showing promise in their rookie seasons.

Prediction: Bills win 31-10

Kickoff will take place at Highmark Stadium at 1:00 p.m. on CBS

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