With all of the COVID-19 mess the K.C. Chiefs have had to deal with this week, along with Pro Bowl snubs and the like, we almost seemed to have lost sight of the game that is taking place this weekend between the Chiefs and visiting Pittsburgh Steelers.
While everyone is still on their toes wondering who will play in this game, we do know that both starting quarterbacks are likely to play in this one which is good news.
That being said, many seem to be writing the Steelers off, including myself, because, well, they aren’t all that good and a lot of it has to do with just how miserable their offense has been this season.
If the Steelers are going to pull one out from under the Chiefs this weekend they’ll need Big Ben to step up in a big way.
Pittsburgh’s offense is, of course, led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who I believe is playing much beyond his expiration date. He has dealt with a lot of injury, turmoil, and just the consequences that come with age over the last few years of his career. Yet, he’s still slinging it (as far as he can) for the Steelers and is the last standing quarterback from the 2004 draft class.
If you’ve watched any Pittsburgh Steelers football this season, you know they’re a lackluster team. Their offense is stagnant, their defense isn’t the juggernaut it used to be, and they win games in ugly fashion.
Despite that, they’ve still been able to pull out a few tough wins such as the Tennessee Titans just last weekend, The Baltimore Ravens in week 12, and the Buffalo Bills to open the season.
However, If they are going to pull one out from under the Chiefs this weekend they’ll need Big Ben to step up as they were able to get away with winning all those games by scoring less than 30 points.
I’ll be honest, I just don’t see it happening. Roethlisberger has been among some of the most underwhelming quarterbacks this season. With a stat line of 3,124 passing yards, 19 TD’s, and 7 INT’s, prolific is not a word you would use to describe him. In fact, he’s only thrown for 300 passing yards or more twice this season.
And it’s not like Roethlisberger is a serious running threat either. He’s one of the slowest leaving the pocket in the NFL and a way I think the Chiefs can affect him this game is with their improved pass-rush. If they can get close to Big Ben or hit him before the ball is out they can knock the ball loose as Roethlisberger has also fumbled the ball 9 times this season.
Pittsburgh’s offense ranks low in many major statistics which is also a reflection of its quarterback play. They rank 26th in PPG, 31st in rushing yards, and 15th in passing yards. The stat I think is the most significant in predicting how this game will go, though, is Ben Roethlisberger’s measly 6.5 yards per pass attempt which ranks 26th in the NFL just ahead of names such as Davis Mills, Jared Goff, and Jacoby Brissett.
You simply won’t beat K.C. by just checking it down or trying stuff underneath especially with how fast and physical the Chiefs defense has gotten. It’s one thing to not be able to match the Chiefs’ big plays but you at least need to be able to move the ball well against them more times than not. You can’t pick on the Chiefs linebackers like you could at the beginning of the year and Willie Gay has added a lot of speed to the second level. The secondary is playing as well as ever and CB L’Jarius Sneed who had not played the last couple of games due to personal reasons should be back and he can absolutely fly around.
It’s also worth noting that one of Big Ben’s favorite red zone targets in rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth is unlikely to play in this game due to a concussion. Freiermuth accounts for 7 of Big Ben’s 19 touchdowns this season.
All odds appear to be in the Chiefs’ favor for this match-up. Even with how many players they had on the COVID list early in the week they were still a -6.5 point favorite. Now, with almost all of the defense back and healthy for this one, a unit that has played like one of the best defenses in the NFL for the second half of the season gets to go up against a lackluster offense with an undynamic quarterback.
I tried to find reasons to say Roethlisberger can make this Chiefs defense stay on their toes but in order to give them a test he would have to play unlike he has mostly all year.