It’s Wild-Card Weekend everyone! The Pittsburgh Steelers had everything go their way in week 18 and now travel to Kansas City to take on the two-seed Chiefs. Here’s everything you need to know for the game.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
Where: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium Kansas City, Missouri
When: 815pm Sunday January 16th, 2022
Weather: 34 degrees and partly cloudy at kickoff. Winds to around 7mph
Wagering Information: Chiefs -12.5 O/U 46
Last Week: The Chiefs won 28-24 in Denver while the Steelers knocked off the rival Ravens in Baltimore 16-13 in overtime.
TV: NBC Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analysis), Michele Tafoya (sideline)
TV Coverage in Your Area: National TV audience
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley with Missi Matthews and Max Starks on the sidelines. (RIP Tunch Ilkin)
Westwood One Radio: Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Trent Green (analysis), Olivia Harlan-Dekker (sideline)
Head Official: Shawn Smith. The Ferris State (MI) graduate has a degree in finance. This is Smith’s fourth season as a Head Official. The Steelers last saw him when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 in overtime back in October.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: RB Najee Harris (Elbow) – Questionable KC: RB Darrel Williams (Toe) – Questionable, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Shoulder) – Out
Injury Notes: Both teams head into the playoffs pretty healthy. Make no mistake about it however, Harris is not 100% and will have a shot into that elbow before the game to help with pain. UPDATE: Najee Harris has been removed from the injury report. He will play on Sunday Night.
FINAL 2021 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 23rd KC 3rd Passing Offense: PIT 15th KC 4th Rushing Offense: PIT 29th KC 16th
Total Defense: PIT 24th KC 27th Passing Defense: PIT 9th KC 27th Rushing Defense: PIT 32nd KC 21st
AFC North Rankings: *Cincinnati 10-7, Pittsburgh 9-7-1, Cleveland 8-9, Baltimore 8-9 *Denotes Division Champion
This Week in the AFC North: Las Vegas at Cincinnati SAT 430pm
What You Need to Know: Mike Tomlin is 5-4 all-time against the Chiefs while Andy Reid is 5-5 all-time against the Steelers… Pittsburgh is 10-14 all-time against non-divisional opponents they played earlier in the season… This is the 63rd postseason game for the Steelers who trail the Dallas Cowboys by one… The Steelers are 6-6 in the wild-card round and they are 3-2 on the road… Tomlin is 86-13 when his team wins the turnover battle… Ben Roethlisberger has seven game-winning drives in 2021…
Kansas City Chiefs Names to Know: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, DT Chris Jones, RB Darrell Williams, LB Nick Bolton, LB Willie Gay, Jr
What’s at Stake: Survive and advance. It’s that simple now. If the Chiefs win, they’ll face the highest of the remaining seeds. If the Steelers win, they’ll head to Nashville to play the top-seeded Titans.
All-Time Series: The Steelers lead 23-12 and they lead 12-8 in Kansas City.
Playoff History: Series is tied 1-1. Both games took place in Kansas City with the Steelers losing in overtime in 1994 and winning in 2017.
Last Meeting: December 2021 in Kansas City. Chiefs 36 Steelers 10
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on the Steelers.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Turn Them Over. Like most teams, the Steelers are incredibly successful when they win the turnover battle. This becomes paramount on Sunday night. T.J. Watt and company have to get to Patrick Mahomes not just to force fumbles but to also force errant throws. On the back end, the linebackers and secondary have to tackle well which also means “tackling the football.” The offense has to get every opportunity it can for short fields and the defense and special teams’ units causing turnovers will aid in that.
2. Take the Air Out of the Ball. It’s a reference you often hear in basketball. One team slows the game down with passing and patience in an effort to keep the other team’s potent offense from gaining momentum. This is exactly what Ben Roethlisberger and the offense have to do. You’ll note that this doesn’t mean strictly running the ball; the Steelers will still have to throw the ball and throw it well. The point there is to take the ball out of the hands of Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high octane offense. As long as the Steelers take care of the ball, Mahomes can’t do anything with it from the bench.
3. Work Your Magic Danny Smith. The greatest gum chewer in the NFL is due to come up with something that will put points on the board. Smith’s Special Teams’ units have blocked two punts this season and another one would be more than welcome Sunday night. When your offense lacks consistency and scoring power then you have to get points or short fields from your Special Teams. Smith will no doubt have several fake punts and field goals in his arsenal as well but if the look the unit needs isn’t there we likely won’t see them. The bottom line is that Smith’s units have to take care of their own business but they need to make a splash play or two at the same time.
Prediction: The great thing about the NFL Playoffs is that it’s a one and done situation. You only need to do enough one week at a time to advance. That said, the order is extremely tall Sunday Night. Arrowhead is one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL so the Steelers offensively have to be on the same page and that will be difficult with so many young guys. My gut feeling is that the Steelers will keep this closer than most think but they just don’t have the horses to compete. The defense has been gashed by the run this season to astronomical proportions and the Chiefs can always turn to that which worries me. I have no idea how this ends for Ben Roethlisberger but he won’t go down without a fight. The Steelers have to get this game into the fourth quarter where they’ve scored more points than anyone this season. I don’t think it will be enough though.
Chiefs 27 Steelers 20
Season Prediction Record: 10-7