The second week of the NFL playoffs ends with another early season rematch as the Kansas City Chiefs play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers (8.15pm ET Sunday).
It was in October that these two teams faced off and the contest wasn’t particularly close with the Steelers winning 43-14 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and Le’Veon Bell (pictured) exploding for 144 yards on just 18 carries. Now the series returns to Arrowhead, which has always been friendly confines for the home team. The Chiefs will no doubt be looking to get Pittsburgh back and prove they were worthy of receiving the second seed in the AFC’s field of six.
Here comes our preview’s big-game analysis, culminating with its betting predictions and picks.
Stopping the Three-Headed Monster
I’ve previewed Steelers games before and every time I say the same thing. If the opposing team can find a way to limit the production of the Steelers’ big three, there is a good chance they will win. If a team can’t stop the three-headed monster, as Kansas City learned back in October, it’s going to be a long day.
There may be no better trio in football than the one Pittsburgh boasts with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and of course Bell. In addition to the numbers he put up against the Chiefs in their first meeting, Bell is coming off a 167 yard rushing performance last week in the wildcard round against the Miami Dolphins, setting a postseason record for Pittsburgh running backs in the playoffs.
Bell alone is one of the biggest reasons why the Steelers have won nine in a row this year as he picked up right where he left off last season as one of the absolute best running backs in pro football. But he’s not the only one Pittsburgh has to boast. Brown too had a great year, finishing among the top five in receivers in catches (106), yards (1,284) and touchdowns (12).
Then there is the guy who brings it all together, the signal caller, Ben Roethlisberger. A career Steeler, the veteran QB has long been considered one of the best pocket passers in football, a distinction he has easily maintained over the years. Roethlisberger’s ability to keep plays alive is what makes his tandem with Brown so daunting for opposing defenses. Because Brown can run the field as well as anyone and when Roethlisberger is given time, his top receiver always finds ways to get open.
Roethlisberger’s ability to keep a pocket alive and evade defenders is also a big part of the reason why Bell has had so much success. While not a threat to run himself, Roethlisberger’s strength in being able to avoid a collapsing pocket has always aided his running backs. The rush is a huge threat in Pittsburgh and no one is better than exploiting it than Bell.
This preview will now turn to what Kansas City bring to this game. The Steelers will have to deal with the impact of a guy like Travis Kelce, whose size and speed makes him a matchup nightmare. Then there is the emergence of a new young star like Tyreek Hill and the consistency of Alex Smith who has the best interception percentage in NFL playoff history. That’s just scratching the surface.
Our Preview’s Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs Picks & Betting Predictions
The truth is, the Chiefs are a good, well-built team, but they’re not the Steelers. Pittsburgh have been playing superbly and have momentum on their side. So even the extra week of rest and home field advantage likely won’t be enough for the Chiefs to emerge from this one with a win.
The top United States’ online bookies seem to agree with this preview’s betting predictions, as those sportsbooks make Kansas City mere one point favorites. These are my picks:
- Take the Steelers +1.5pts @ -107 with BetOnline to best this spread with a victory from the underdog role. It is +1pt @ -110 with Bovada.
- Take the over 45 total points to be scored @ -105 with Bovada Sportsbook, as these playoff games tend to be high scoring and look for that trend to continue. It is -110 for the same spread with BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.