Chiefs vs. Steelers: Game Preview from The Mothership
When the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) visit the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) in their Week 16 matchup on Sunday at Heinz Field, it won't be a playoff game, but it might as well be.
The Chiefs need to beat the Steelers to keep their postseason hopes alive while the Steelers can clinch their first playoff berth since 2011 with a win against Kansas City.
In a game with such season-defining implications, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid feels the best strategy has been to direct his team's attention elsewhere.
"I don't think you focus on that," Reid said this week. "You focus on the things we've talked about each week and that's study the opponent."
Remembering Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs' 1993 season from The Mothership
"Kansas Citians, we always feel marginalized," Michael MacCambridge, author of "America's Game," said. "We always feel like the bigger cities get more attention. There was this good team. Where was our Sports Illustrated cover? Where was the NBC sports crew to talk to us about our team? Well suddenly all of that came at once with Joe Montana."
"[Joe Montana] had this ability to win," Chiefs CEO and Chairman Clark Hunt said. "He had this ability to bring his teams back."
"This was the roller coaster ride," Kevin Harlan, "Voice of the Chiefs" (1985-1993), said. "This was the jolt. We hadn't seen anything like that since Lenny (Dawson). I mean you never figured you were out of the game."
KCChiefs.com Video: On the Road: Chiefs Arrive in Pittsburgh
KCChiefs.com Video: HyVee Chiefs Insider: Week 16 Full Episode
Game Day Forecast from The National Weather Service
Today Mostly cloudy, with a high near 33. Calm wind.
Tonight Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27. East wind 3 to 7 mph.
Key matchups to watch Sunday from Chiefs Digest
STRENGTH ON STRENGTH
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is on a hot streak the past eight games, passing for 2,822 yards, a healthy average of 352.8 per game, with 21 touchdowns against five interceptions. Roethlisberger currently ranks second in the league with 4,415 yards passing and leads the NFL's second-best aerial show (306.7 yards per game).
The Chiefs, however, haven't allowed a 300-yard passer on the season, a remarkable statistic considering the team has faced the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.
The Chiefs rank second in the league against the pass, allowing 199.2 yards on average per game, and the team's 38 total sacks, anchored by outside linebacker Justin Houston's 17, are tied for seventh.
Game Day Preview: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers from The Pittsburgh Courier
Here are the Keys to A Steelers Victory:
1. The Chiefs rely heavily on Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis in the ground game and the black and gold will need to find a way to stop those guys at the line of scrimmage. If they allow them to break off big runs, the play action game will open up for Alex Smith and that could become an issue.
2. The offensive line must stop linebacker Justin Houston who has 17 sacks this season and is a real threat to disrupt the Steelers air attack.
Chiefs defense relies upon sacks to succeed from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Chiefs (8-6) come to Heinz Field today seeking a playoff spot against one of the teams standing in their way, and they are living proof there is no shortage of sacks in their neighborhood. But that is both good and bad news.
The Chiefs have one of the league's top sackers in outside linebacker Justin Houston, who is tied with Baltimore's Elvis Dumervil with 17 and has a chance to post one of the NFL's best single-season totals in history.
The downside is quarterback Alex Smith has been sacked 39 times, second most in the AFC, and has been forced to run 47 times. Some of that is by design, but Smith has had to run for cover on other occasions.
Chiefs pass rush to test Steelers from The Allentown Morning Call
But Gilbert was a surprising late inactive for Sunday's win at Atlanta.
Mike Adams made his third-consecutive start in his place. The Steelers have allowed only one sack in that time. Ben Roethlisberger has not been sacked over the previous two weeks - but that was against the teams ranked last and second-to-last in the league in sacks (Cincinnati 18, Atlanta 16).
To put this week's challenge into perspective, Kansas City's Justin Houston has more sacks (17) than the Falcons.
"To be out there would mean a lot," Gilbert said. "I feel good. [The ankle] has been feeling really good this week. So I'm taking it day by day and we'll see how it feels come Sunday."
Head to head: C Maurkice Pouncey vs. Chiefs NT Dontari Pope from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"He's a good player," said Pouncey, a three-time Pro Bowl center. "He's athletic and he can pass-rush, too. But you've just got to block him. Everyone in the NFL is good."
Teams tend to shy away from drafting nose tackles in the first round because they are rarely three-down players in today's specialized NFL. And generally speaking, teams need first-round choices to be every-down players.
Poe is the exception.
He rarely, if ever, comes off the field. He has played 848 of Kansas City's 906 defensive snaps, or 93.5 percent. In back-to-back games last month, Poe played every snap -- 69 at Oakland, 83 versus Denver -- and in three other games played more than 70.
Steelers' Bell, Chiefs' Charles elevating running back position in NFL from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"Even though we're not on the field at the same time, we're competing," said Bell, a second-round pick in 2013. "I want to get more yards than he gets on our defense.
"(Charles) has been on top for a long time, and I want to perform like one of the best. I want to be on at his level, and competing brings the best out of everybody.
"You can't allow a great player like Jamaal Charles to take over the game," Bell added. "He has done it for a long time. He just takes the game over. When he catches the ball and breaks off big runs, then I need to make my plays. It's the only way for us to come out on top."
Marquee Matchup: Chiefs vs. Steelers from Steelers.com
Kelvin Beachum/ Marcus Gilbertvs. LBs Tamba Hali/Justin Houston
The Steelers offense will have a tough challenge today in Kansas City's defense, but the most important aspect will be containing arguably one of the best pass-rush duos in the league in Hali and Houston. The strong and athletic linebackers have combined for 23 sacks this season and Houston is tied for the league high with 17. The Steelers have only allowed two sacks over the past three games and it will be pivotal for the offensive line, especially Beachum and Gilbert, to protect quarterback
Ben Roethlisbergerfrom Hali, Houston and the Chiefs' pass rush.
Fantasy Football Week 16: Start 'em, Sit 'em advice from ESPN, CBS Sports and NJ.com from NJ.com
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh: Sitting Bell due to a matchup in the championship game might be a tough pill to swallow, but the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed just two rushing touchdowns all season. Bell will get his touches, but fantasy owners couldn't ask for a tougher matchup this weekend for their No. 1 running back.
NFL Insider: Who's hot, who's not and more from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Kansas City Chiefs have allowed only two rushing touchdowns. That ties the NFL record for fewest rushing touchdowns allowed in a season, something done by the 1934 Detroit Lions, 1944 New York Giants, 1968 Dallas Cowboys and 1971 Minnesota Vikings. All four of those teams played 14 games or fewer.
The Steelers' Le'Veon Bell won't break Barry Foster's team rushing record (1,690), but Bell has set the franchise mark for yards from scrimmage (2,043).
Much of AFC playoff picture revolves around Steelers-Chiefs from Pittsburgh Sporting News
Prediction: This will be a feisty battle in a chilly, wet December atmosphere. Both teams have mostly played up to their competition in 2014, so I don't see Pittsburgh overlooking the Chiefs, who are a playoff-caliber team for the second straight year under Reid. They will not let up in this late-season push towards the playoffs. Pittsburgh wins, 20-14, making the playoffs and making us all ashamed we left them for dead after losses to Tampa Bay, Cleveland, the New York Jets and the Saints.
Sunday Playbook / By Milt Northrop: Nearly every game has meaning from The Buffalo News
Chiefs (8-6) at Steelers (9-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Steelers (-3).
The scoop: Can't remember a Pittsburgh team ever leading the NFL in total offense. It happened just once (1979). Ironically, Steelers' offensive coordinator is Todd Haley, who was fired as KC coach in middle of 2011 season. Effectiveness of offense tells you what huge seasons QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell are having. Big Ben is second in league in passing yards (4,415), Brown leads in receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,498) and Bell leads AFC with 1,278 rushing yards. ... Pittsburgh wraps up playoff berth with a win while loss officially eliminates Chiefs. ... KC still looking for first TD by a wide receiver this season.
Outlook: Bryce Brown's fumble killed the Bills and kept Kansas City's season alive. Pittsburgh, 30-21.
Rapid Reaction: San Diego Chargers from ESPN
What it means: At 9-6, the Chargers need a win in the team's final regular-season contest against the Kansas City Chiefs, along with one loss in the final two games by the Baltimore Ravens, to reach the postseason for a second straight year.