The Buffalo Bills haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1993, a 24-3 win in their march towards a 3rd Super Bowl appearance. Regular season, they haven’t won there since 1975. To date, the Steelers have won the last 6 meetings with the last win coming in 1999. Safe to say there’s a lot riding on this game, a chance to make up for previous failures. To top it off, this is a Sunday Night game, the Bills haven’t appeared on Sunday night since 2007, an embarrassment by the Patriots. There’s so much at stake, we may need a priest to perform an exorcism for good measure.
The one upside is that the Bills continue to be healthy heading into a win & in playoff scenario. Players are reducing padded practices per the CBA & trying to manage their health during the week to maximize their abilities on Sundays. Below are the injuries & expected inactives prior to the Sunday game.
OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle)
Nsekhe will miss his 4th straight game following his severe sprain suffered in the win over the Dolphins. He continues to show progress, observed walking without a walking boot, but not practicing just yet. I had anticipated that he could come back in time for the Patriots game which is still realistic, but not a guarantee. Once he begins practicing, then a return to play timeline can be definitive.
DT Corey Liuget (knee)
Liuget has been dealing with a knee injury all week that forced him to miss Wednesday’s practice, but limited Thursday & Friday. It is not known which knee is bothering him but there were several instances where he could have sustained a contusion due to hitting his knee on a helmet, getting kicked, or having bodies fall on him. Unless a clear mechanism of injury is identified or even which side, hard to really tell if he’s a guarantee to play. If he is unable to go, DT Vincent Taylor gets the nod.
OG Jon Feliciano (illness)
Feliciano was sent home Friday with an illness that affected RB Frank Gore this week & RB TJ Yeldon & OG Quinton Spain last week. It’s flu season & people are bound to get sick. He is truly a 50/50 on whether he plays Sunday night. Considering he has extra time to recover with hitting the fluids & resting, there may be a chance he plays. From the looks of what I’ve seen him do this season, he’s one tough dude. With the ability to clinch a playoff spot, I would think he could muster enough energy Sunday night. If he can’t go, OG Spencer Long would likely get the start.
CLEARED TO PLAY
DT Jordan Phillips (knee)
Like Liuget, it’s unknown which knee he is dealing with. He popped on the injury report as limited Thursday indicating he missed some drill at some point, reportedly receiving extra attention from the training staff at the beginning of practice. Looking back at Sunday’s game on replay, it was a brutal, physical game. It’s no surprise several guys are banged up, especially the big uglies in the trenches. Thankfully, Phillips is cleared to play & he will continue his rotation on the defensive line as they have every other game.
QB Josh Allen (left ankle)
Allen suffered a mild left ankle sprain as the result of getting stepped on by C Mitch Morse which forced him to limp off the field briefly. He quickly got his ankle taped back up & was able to return to play without missing a snap. As he didn’t appear on the injury report this week, I don’t anticipate it being an issue. He will likely have either some bracing or have it taped up in order to provide extra support. I don’t believe that it will hinder his overall mobility.
TE Tommy Sweeney
OG Ike Boettger
RB TJ Yeldon
OT Ty Nsekhe
DT Corey Liuget
S Dean Marlowe
WR Duke Williams
The Steelers boast a talented defense, strong offensive line, beat up starting running back in RB James Connor, lacking their top wide receiver in WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster & playing their 3rd string QB Devlin Hodges. Heinz Field is not an easy place to play as Steeler Nation shows up every game & this will be no exception. It will be cold & the pressure will be on. The Bills appear to be the more talented team heading down to Pittsburgh to play on the national stage. They have shown they can hang with anyone; this is a winnable game & I expect Buffalo to end Sunday night with 10 wins.
On a personal note, growing up in Erie, PA, I was surrounded by Steeler fans including many family members. It is incredibly satisfying to see Facebook meltdown after a Steelers loss. I plan on watching the game from the comfort of my own home, watch the Bills win, and then sit back, with a tasty beer as Steelers nation cries themselves to sleep. GO BILLS!
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