A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday afternoon at the Buffalo Bills:
ALL OR NOTHING: The Bills are No. 1 in the NFL in rushing (161.9 yards per game) and No. 32 in passing (181.5). No NFL team has finished a season at the top in rushing and at the bottom in passing since the 2006 Falcons. The Ravens (2003) and the Bills (1973, 1962) have also finished first in their leagues in rushing and last in passing.
GROUND AND POUND:** The Bills' top three ballcarriers are all averaging at least 5.5 yards per carry, running back LeSean McCoy (174 carries, 949 yards, 5.5 average per attempt), quarterback Tyrod Taylor (73-469-6.4) and running back Mike Gillislee (64-375-5.9). Those three have combined for 21 of Buffalo's league-leading 23 rushing touchdowns (the NFL average is 10).
McCoy is as unpredictable as he is explosive. He has the moves to shake defenders in close quarters and the burst to run by them. He can get to the outside and turn it up the field and he isn't opposed to giving ground and reversing his field when he doesn't like what he initially sees. And he can catch (35 receptions, one for a touchdown).
Gillisee (5-foot-11, 219 pounds) is more of a sledgehammer.
Taylor is a threat on scrambles and designed runs, including the read-option and the speed-option.
Buffalo runs out of one-, two- and three-running backs sets (including the Inverted Wishbone). The Bills will run from the Pistol and the Shotgun. They'll run traps and they'll run the Wildcat. And they'll run as many as five different running plays from the same formation, according to McCoy.
REVOLVING RECEIVERS:** The passing game hasn't been what the Bills had hoped, in part because the wide receiver position has been in a state of flux all season. Sammy Watkins played the first two games, missed the next eight (foot) and has returned for the last two. Robert Woods has missed the last two (knee). Percy Harvin attempted to come back from retirement but lasted just two games (migraines).
Woods leads the team with 42 catches for 493 yards and appears to have the best relationship/chemistry with Taylor.
Watkins had 1,047 receiving yards, nine receiving TDs and averaged 17.5 yards per catch last season. He was targeted nine times but only caught three balls for 38 yards in last Sunday's 38-24 loss at Oakland. Watkins has 12 for receptions for 181 yards (0 TDs) on the season.
TWO SIDES TO TAYLOR: The Bills' quarterback opened 9-for-10 passing for 110 yards against the Raiders, when the Bills came out throwing and threw on their first six offensive snaps. He finished the game 18-for-35 for 191 yards. Taylor threw for 166 yards in each of the Bills' previous two games (wins at Cincinnati and over Jacksonville).
Taylor has thrown only five interceptions, a big reason why the Bills are tied with the Lions and Patriots with a league-low eight turnovers. But he rarely throws over the middle and he's suffered from bouts of inaccuracy. Taylor also doesn't make a habit of scanning the entire field before vacating the pocket and often looks like a player who trusts his legs more than his arm.
Despite the passing problems, the Bills are No. 5 in the AFC in scoring offense (25.4 points per game) and No. 6 in the NFL in red zone offense (touchdowns 65.8 percent of the time).
CORNER CONCERN:** The Bills kept things pretty basic on defense in an apparent attempt to protect rookie cornerback Kevon Seymour against the Raiders. Seymour, who was replacing Ronald Darby (concussion) was beaten for a deep-ball touchdown at Oakland.
If Darby returns against the Steelers (he was a full participant in practice on Thursday), the Bills may well get a little more exotic with their pressures and coverages (as Rex Ryan-coached defenses often do). But Buffalo will also expect to get pressure without blitzing.
The Bills have 33 sacks, the third-most in the NFL.
No. 1 pick Shaq Lawson will reportedly make his first start at outside linebacker against the Steelers. Lawson has nine tackles (two sacks) in five games after missing the first seven recovering from shoulder surgery. Lorenzo Alexander (10 sacks) and Jerry Hughes (five) will also be a part of Buffalo's rotation at outside linebacker.
QUICK TURNAROUND: The Bills led the Raiders, 24-9, with 9:01 left in the third quarter.
By the 6:26 mark of the fourth quarter, Oakland was ahead, 38-24.
In between Buffalo gave up a touchdown, went three-and-out, gave up a touchdown, went three-and-out, gave up a touchdown, went three-and-out, forced a punt, threw a first-down interception and gave up a touchdown.
"We just imploded, it's as simple as that," head coach Rex Ryan said. "Obviously, you gotta give the Raiders credit, but, man, we helped, too. We couldn't do anything right, offense, defense, our punter hit one 20 yards. We all share in the blame. Sometimes, you can over come it, one side picks up the other side and vice versa. We kind of imploded as a team."
HE SAID IT: "We're just off a little bit. If we get healthy I think we can play with anybody. Hopefully, we have four games left and we can put it all together and get a string together. I think we'd be a tough out in the playoffs but we have to earn our right to get there and obviously we're a long way away right now." _ Ryan on the Bills at 6-6.