Steelers vs. Bills Week 5 matchup preview and current betting lines
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin may not have planned this out the best, but rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will make his first start on the road against the Super Bowl favorite and top AFC defense in Buffalo. The Bills have not allowed 200 net passing yards in eight straight regular-season games, the longest streak in the NFL since the 2012-13 Texans (nine games).
As you may expect, the NFL Week 5 odds have the Bills as a 14-point home favorite with a total of 46.5 points. This is the first time since the 1970 merger that the Steelers are a 14-point underdog in a game. They were 13.5-point underdogs in Super Bowl XXX against Dallas, and they lost 27-17.
Tomlin is 0-5 SU and 2-3 ATS as an underdog of at least eight points. Pittsburgh hasn’t won a game as an underdog anywhere near this big since Bill Cowher won his first game against the Houston Oilers as a 12.5-point underdog in 1992.
The Steelers won 23-16 in Buffalo in Week 1 last season as a 6.5-point underdog, but this would be the stuff of instant folk legend for Pickett if he could pull this one off. The Steelers did it last year by T.J. Watt forcing Josh Allen into splash plays and getting a blocked punt for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Watt is still out this Sunday, so it is going to take a miracle to pull out a win for the 1-3 Steelers.
But crazier things have happened as this Buffalo team lost 9-6 in Jacksonville last season as a 14.5-point favorite. Since 2014, NFL favorites of 12.5-to-15.5 points are 46-41 ATS and 78-9 SU.
Players to watch in the Steelers vs. Bills game
Diontae Johnson: Pittsburgh’s No. 1 wide receiver had just two catches for 11 yards, his lowest total in a game in 23 months, against the Jets. He will have to be more heavily involved if the Steelers are going to stand a chance in this one. Pickett needs to establish a connection with him like he has with George Pickens in the preseason and on Sunday.
Gabriel Davis: Despite playing nearly 100% of the snaps the last two games, Davis has just four catches for 50 yards since opening night ended. This was supposed to be his year as the No. 2 receiver in Buffalo, but injury has slowed him down. Now without the slot receivers healthy, Davis needs to step up for Allen and be a bigger target and asset.
Our Best NFL Bets for the Steelers vs. Bills game
We have two NFL Week 5 predictions for this matchup of a great Buffalo defense and a Pittsburgh offense that is 32nd in yards per drive this season.
Steelers vs. Bills Point Spread Pick: Steelers +14 (-110)
The Steelers vs. Bills spread opened with the Bills as 8-point home favorites, but it has quickly gone up to 14 points with the news that the Steelers are starting a rookie quarterback who threw three interceptions last week. Granted, two were tipped balls and the third was a Hail Mary.
The fact is this game may come down more to the Pittsburgh defense without T.J. Watt, which has struggled, than anything Pickett does. Ben Roethlisberger did not play well in Buffalo in 2020 or 2021, and the Steelers still came away with an 11-point loss and a 7-point win.
A big part of the reason is that Josh Allen has just not looked that special in three games against Pittsburgh. He has been held under 60% completions and 5.6 yards per attempt in all three games. That’s easier to do if Watt is playing, but Allen is unlikely to torch this team the way Patrick Mahomes does. The Bills are also down both slot receivers as Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie are injured, so Allen should not have a full complement of weapons to attack the Steelers on short routes. Watch out for tight end Dawson Knox as an anytime touchdown scorer in this one.
Tomlin should have Mitch Trubisky acting as Allen in practice this week since he was Allen’s backup in Buffalo last year. Tomlin also has easy bulletin board material this week with saying the Steelers haven’t been this big of an underdog in over 50 years.
Would any of it stick? Hard to say, but Pickett is a wild card, and he should make the offense better. If the defense can keep Allen under 30 points, then I like the Steelers to at least cover this large spread.
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Total Points: Under 46.5 (-110)
The Bills rank second in the NFL with 14.5 points per game allowed. Three of their four games have finished under 44 points, and the highest-scoring one, a 41-7 thrashing of Tennessee, got over that mark with a pick-six before the teams called the dogs off late in the third.
All four of Pittsburgh’s games have gone under 46.5 points, and the highest-scoring one, a 29-17 loss in Cleveland, had that garbage touchdown on the final play on a fumbled lateral.
My expectations for this Pittsburgh team is an improved offense under Pickett that will no longer rank 32nd in yards per drive on offense. But until Watt returns, the defense is going to be problematic. Still, most Tomlin-coached defenses do not bleed out points, and Allen has only led his offense to 17, 20, and 16 points in the last three years against Pittsburgh.
Since 2018 in conference games, the over is 22-31-1 (41.5%) in Pittsburgh games, the second-lowest over rate in the NFL.
Even if this game ends with Buffalo winning 28-17 or 27-14, that would still give the Steelers a cover and hit the under for your NFL bet of the week.bet on NFL with draftkings >
Frequently asked questions about the Steelers vs. Bills game in week 5
The game is being played at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, New York.
Since 2017 under McDermott, Buffalo is 18-10-3 ATS (64.3%) as a home favorite, the second-best record in the NFL. McDermott is 11-5-2 ATS (68.8%) as a home favorite since 2020, Josh Allen’s breakout season.
Since 2007 under Tomlin, Pittsburgh is 32-23-2 ATS (58.2%) as a road underdog, the seventh-best record in the NFL in that time. Since 2019, Tomlin is 10-9 ATS (52.6%) as a road underdog, ranked 22nd in the league.