Live Thread: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers


Welcome to the qualifying rounds of the NFL playoffs.

That’s essentially where the Chiefs are today as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first of two must-win games for Kansas City. A win today and a win next Sunday at home against the San Diego Chargers guarantees a playoff spot for the Chiefs in back-to-back seasons since the early ’90’s. It would also be the first time the Chiefs had back-t0-back double-digit win seasons since the early ’90’s.

Lose either of these next two games and the Chiefs are likely out of the playoffs. So, you know, no pressure or anything.

Today’s game likely comes down to what the Chiefs can do to slow down Le’Veon Bell. Bell is working on a career year in just his second season in the NFL, with 1,278 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. His ability to run at a high level added to Pittsburgh’s excellent air attack makes the Steelers one of the more potent offenses in the NFL.

What the Chiefs have on their side is a secondary that has done a good job in keeping good passing attacks in check. Even without Eric Berry for most of the season and with some injury and depth issues at cornerback, the Chiefs have done a good job in preventing big passing plays and keeping everything in front of them. So there is reason to think that the Chiefs can do a good enough job in the secondary to at least slow down what the Steelers like to do in the passing game.

The problem comes when teams decide to pound the ball against the Chiefs. Josh Mauga and James-Michael Johnson look like they are out of gas and Joe Mays doesn’t have very many regular season reps in the defense due to wrist surgery. This means Kansas City is going to need a big game from Dontari Poe – who seems close to out of gas himself – and the rest of the defensive line.

Fortunately there are some reinforcements coming on the d-line. Allen Bailey is cleared to play after missing the last two weeks with a concussion, which should help get the Chiefs back into a rotation that could keep everyone a bit more fresh. Bailey and Poe plus Vance Walker, Kevin Vickerson, and Jaye Howard are going to determine whether or not the Chiefs walk out of Heinz Field with a win or a loss today.

My heart says they get that done.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Steelers 30