The Pittsburgh Steelers need every game in order to clinch a playoff berth. They will head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs who have just regained first place in the AFC Conference. The Chiefs are fighting for a playoff bye, the Steelers are fighting for their playoff life. After looking at the NFL odds, which team is the right NFL pick?
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, December 26, 2021- 4:25 PM EST GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
The Pittsburgh Steelers are going through a rough patch going 2-3 over their last five. Their most recent game, however, was an important win over the Tennessee Titans. The Pittsburgh defense led the way and they held Tennessee to only 13 points, constantly troubling the Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The key was the defense's ability to force four turnovers. The Steelers will need to play the same style of opportunistic defense against the Chiefs if they want to get to victory.
This will most likely be Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's last season and his results have been inconsistent in his swan song. Sometimes Roethlisberger channels his old winning ways, other times he is unable to complete the simplest of passing routes. The Steelers will hope to get the good version of "Big Ben" this weekend to try and compete with a high-powered Chiefs offense.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is led by OLB T.J. Watt and his ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Many teams tried to run against the Steelers' defense as they found running the ball to be an easier way to attack this stout Steelers defensive unit. The Chiefs, however, like to throw the ball much more often than they run, so in this case, it will be strength vs strength.
CB Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick will key the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary that will attempt to slow down the Chiefs' offense. Both players will have their hands full against two of the league's best weapons, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce (assuming they play). Haden and Fitzpatrick do have the skills to cover these electric players, so whoever wins this matchup will definitely have a big advantage in this game.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs got off to a slow start and gave up 134 points (33.5 points per game) in their first four games. This led many to proclaim that the Chiefs ' dynasty was over and that the fall was predicated on the team's inability to defend.
As the season has progressed, the Chiefs' defense has improved and now is consistently holding opponents to low scores. The Chiefs' opponents have averaged just less than 12 points per game over their last four contests.
When the Chiefs defense plays this well it is hard to imagine them losing. This is because of their high-powered offense led by QB Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs are third in passing yards per game at 296.4.
They are sixth in the league in points scored at 27.5. Of course, former MVP Patrick Mahomes leads the way, but he cannot do so without his two best weapons, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce.
Both Hill and Kelce are on the injury report, currently under covid protocols, but the line indicates that the books expect one or both men to play. I believe the Chiefs just need one of the two men to play but if they both play the Chiefs have a decided advantage.
The last big question mark on the Chief's injury report is DT Chris Jones. Jones leads the defense. His ability to consistently get pressure on the QB as well as stuff the run makes him the most valuable part of the Chiefs defense.
The Chiefs' defensive improvement has directly coincided with Jones' increased level of play. With Jones in the game, the Chiefs not only have a great chance to win but also cover the NFL odds.
Pittsburgh Steelers secondary vs. Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers
The Kansas City Chiefs will need to put up points against the Steelers, but they have the wide receivers to do it. Patrick Mahomes is excellent at extending plays so even if the Steelers get pressure on the quarterback, it'll be incumbent on the Steelers receivers to hold their coverage longer than usual.
If the Steelers' secondary can do that and shut down the Chiefs passing attack, the Steelers have a great chance to win a low-scoring, old-school ball game. If the Chiefs are able to get their receivers open and turn this game into a shootout, they have a great chance to get the win and cover the spread.
The Chiefs are peaking at the right time and as tough as the Steelers are, this matchup is too much for Pittsburgh. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a shell of his Hall of Fame self, while Patrick Mahomes is growing into his own Hall of Fame career.
The Chiefs have the offensive weapons to take advantage of even the best defenses. I expect them to win and win by margin against a Steelers team that will struggle to keep up in a shoot-out. Even though the NFL odds on the Chiefs are steep, the Chiefs are the right NFL pick. For your best bets, take the Kansas City Chiefs.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.