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Steelers-Chiefs playoff preview: The road factor, stopping the triplets and more

Thanks to Jeff over at SB Nation’s Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain, for answering our Steelers-Chiefs questions.

The Steelers on the road vs. the Steelers at home. What's the difference?

BTSC: There is a big difference between the Steelers at Heinz Field and away from the friendly confines. The biggest difference is the offense, mainly Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is a far better signal caller at home than he is on the road. Other than looking at statistics, this is something fans and media simply shrug and are clueless as to why it is happening, but it is real. The Steelers can win on the road, they have won several road games during their eight-game winning streak, but games at Cleveland, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Cincinnati are a far cry from Arrowhead Stadium.

You're trying to stop the Steelers triplets, how do you do it?

BTSC: Depends who you ask, but for me it all starts with stopping Le'Veon Bell. The Steelers have become a running football team during their winning streak, and you have to force the ball in the air with Ben Roethlisberger. This isn't to suggest No. 7 isn't capable of still winning a game, just as the Ravens how that worked out, but if you had to pick your poison, you want to stop the run and put the ball in Big Ben's hands ... especially on the road.

The Chiefs need to get some pressure on Ben. Can the Steelers stop them?

BTSC: It won't be easy, but I think they can. The Steelers' offensive line is one of the best units in the NFL. In the regular season, only the Oakland Raiders surrendered fewer sacks of their quarterback. Justin Houston didn't play in the Week 4 game, and he will likely get his pressures, but the game plan has to be built around protecting the quarterback. Look for the Steelers to take shots deep early, utilize the quick-hitter screens, utilize no-huddle and run the ball to keep the pass rush off Roethlisberger.

I heard the Steelers defense is actually good now. What happened?

BTSC: At 4-5, Mike Tomlin made some tough decisions. Faced with the loss of the defense's leader, Cam Heyward, he pulled some punches. Benching Jarvis Jones in place of the ageless wonder James Harrison, putting rookie Artie Burns at cornerback and fellow rookie safety Sean Davis ahead of Robert Golden. Combine that with the return of Bud Dupree and you have yourself one athletic defense. What was lost in experience was replaced by speed, athleticism and ball skills. The Steelers defense is an up and coming unit who is getting after the quarterback, and creating turnovers. A good recipe for success when it matters the most.

What's your prediction for the game?

BTSC: When I look at this game I throw out the Week 4 game. Both teams are vastly different from earlier this season, but I like how the Steelers match up with the Chiefs. I think it will be a very close game, but I like the Steelers in this game. I'll give you the score of 27-24 in favor of the black and gold.

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