The Kansas City Chiefs open up their playoff run against the Pittsburgh Steelers as they attempt to make their third Super Bowl in a row. The Pittsburgh Steelers squeaked into the playoffs but they are well-coached and can be competitive with anybody. The NFL odds are steep. Which team is the right NFL pick?
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 16, 2022 – 08:15 PM EST at Arrowhead Stadium
Many thought the Pittsburgh Steelers season was over. The Steelers needed a loss from the Indianapolis Colts to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In this game, the Colts were 16-point favorites. But true to the phrase “Any Given Sunday” the Jaguars were able to pull off the upset, thus opening the doors for the Steelers to qualify for the playoffs.
This will be Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's last season. This could very well be his last game. Roethlisberger is one of the game's greats, but age has definitely taken its toll. While some quarterbacks are effective into their late 30s, Roethlisberger never really took care of his body and just relied on his immense talent. The last couple of seasons, Roethlisberger has been a shell of his former self, yet at any time he can still uncork the greatness that he once possessed. The Steelers are hoping to get one of those “turn back the clock” performances from Roethlisberger this Sunday.
The Steelers have always been built upon having a great defense. Their defense is led by TJ Watt, who tied an NFL record for a single season sack that was 22.5. Watt is a destructive force who can beat almost anyone one on one. Watt is constantly triple-teamed, which opens up opportunities for his teammates. The Steelers are going to need to have a big game from TJ Watt in order to stay competitive with the high-powered Kansas City offense.
In my mind, the Steelers' greatest competitive advantage is coach, Mike Tomlin. Tomlin does not get the accolades he deserves, because he is not a flashy offensive coach. Tomlin teams always come ready to compete, and he has yet to have a losing season as head coach of the Steelers. It's always tough to bet against a Tomlin-led team. He gets his guys ready to go, especially in underdog situations.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are attempting to make that third straight Super Bowl appearance. With Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, the expectations are nothing less. Mahomes threw for 4839 yards this season, with 37 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. Mahomes' mobility means that he is never out of the play, and his receivers know to keep looking to get open, even when he's under pressure.
Mahomes' two major weapons are Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Both had over 1,000 yards receiving with nine touchdowns on the season. Hill is that deep-threat guy while Kelce roams the middle of the field in the space that Hill creates. The duo of Hill and Kelce makes guarding this Chiefs team a very tough task for any opposing secondary.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense was terrible to start the season. The Chiefs took advantage of a weaker schedule of offenses at midseason to get their defense back into form. While they slipped against elite offenses, such as the Cincinnati Bengals in week 17, the Chiefs defense has the proper momentum. They also showed that they can beat average offenses, such as the one the Pittsburgh Steelers will field on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line vs. Kansas City Chiefs defensive line
With Roethlisberger at this stage in his career, the Steelers cannot afford to get into a shootout with Patrick Mahomes. Therefore they're going to need to control time of possession and do so by running the football. The Steelers' offensive line has struggled this year, but Najee Harris is a dynamic running back. He takes advantage of any sort of running room that he is given.
If the Steelers are going to be successful this Sunday they are going to have to establish the running game and make Najee Harris a big part of the equation. If the Chiefs are able to stop the run and turn the Steelers into a one-dimensional passing attack, the Steelers have little to no chance of keeping pace with Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs.
This game is actually an example of arguments against expanding the playoffs. The Steelers are not really the level of a normal playoff team. They do execute well, and they are always giving a good effort, but they simply do not have the talent to match up with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs blew them out when the teams met in week 16. The final score was 36-10 but it was 36-3 with less than two minutes to go. I don't see how the Steelers are able to turn things around. Sunday's best bet is the Kansas City Chiefs -12.5.
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