In Week 15, all but one of Arrowhead Pride’s contributors called for the Kansas City Chiefs to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Our composite prediction of a 30-25 Chiefs win was just eight points removed from the team’s 36-28 overtime victory — our most accurate pick of the season. Our readers were a bit less confident of a Kansas City win — about one in five thought the Chargers would win — but 50% saw the close win coming.
Next, the Chiefs face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored by 7.5 points. Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about this matchup.
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
This game shouldn’t be as difficult to predict — but with COVID, we have become used to the fact that life is rarely predictable. As I sit here on Christmas morning, I am hoping that Father Christmas (that’s what we call Santa here in the United Kingdom) can deliver us a couple more Christmas presents: Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce returning from the Reserve/COVID list. Should the two future Canton inductees return, the Chiefs will dispose of the Steelers comfortably. But if the Chiefs have to go into battle without them, it will be a much closer affair. Still, my money is on Patrick Mahomes. Chiefs 17, Steelers 13
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
With so many players falling victim to COVID this week, I can’t blame anyone who might think the Chiefs will find it difficult to defeat the Steelers; it’s entirely possible that replacement players thrown into the mix might make key mistakes that could keep Kansas City from notching its 11th victory of the season. But it’s also possible that those same players will demonstrate that they deserve the faith the Chiefs have placed in them. In any case, the calm, cool way in which the team has taken care of its business in recent weeks — sometimes without key players — has made me a believer. Andy Reid and his players will get past this — and if they don’t, they’ll get past it during the seven weeks that will follow. Chiefs 27, Steelers 21
Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34)
The possibility of being without Travis Kelce AND Tyreek Hill makes the outlook of this game look a little bleak. If those two are not available, Patrick Mahomes will have to step up in a way he never has before. The Steelers’ defense is susceptible to the ground game so if the passing attack is without their biggest stars, we could see Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy lean more on Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams. Neutralizing Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt will also be of paramount importance for a Chiefs win. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a shell of his former self — but with weapons like wide receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool and rookie running back Najee Harris, the Kansas City defense must still respect the wily veteran. Chiefs 30, Steelers 20
Kristian Gumminger (@kgumminger)
After playing in three divisional games in 12 days, the Chiefs now have to prepare for a feisty Steelers team without knowing exactly who will be on the field. To me, the biggest matchup is the Chiefs’ offensive line going against a Pittsburgh defensive line that has all kinds of matchup issues. With 17.5 sacks on the season, T.J. Watt is a true game wrecker — and Cam Heyward and Alex Highsmith can cause issues as well. If Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are not available, the Chiefs’ offensive line will need to get Patrick Mahomes extra time for the other weapons to get open. Andy Reid will need to call a stellar offensive game to put up enough points to win this one. I think it’s going to be a frustrating game to watch — but one in which the Chiefs will still come out on top. Bold prediction: Mecole Hardman has the first multi-touchdown game of his career. Chiefs 21, Steelers 17
Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels)
It’s very hard to predict this game without knowing who’s going to play. If the Chiefs are without Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, it’s safe to assume the offense will struggle to move the ball. Nonetheless — with Chris Jones, Willie Gay and L’Jarius Sneed back — I expect the defense to make life difficult for a very limited Steelers offense. This could be a very ugly, low-scoring game — but assuming his top two weapons are out, I believe Patrick Mahomes’ legs will ultimately make the difference in the end. Chiefs 17, Steelers 13
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
We’ve never seen Patrick Mahomes play a game without both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce — and a game against the Steelers isn’t exactly the best time for it to happen. I believe Pittsburgh could absolutely wreck the Chiefs’ offensive game plan — especially with T.J. Watt likely facing Andrew Wylie for the whole game. Fortunately, the Chiefs’ defense has a very good chance of making a similar impact — but potentially missing players like Nick Bolton and Rashad Fenton could be a big hit, too. I see Kansas City failing this test of their depth; the offense’s inability to lean on the running game or find a reliable receiver will doom them. Steelers 13, Chiefs 10
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
It’s hard to make a prediction when you don’t know who is going to be available to play. If Hill and Kelce are both out, the Chiefs may have trouble moving the ball against the Steelers’ defense. That being said, the Pittsburgh offense has struggled to move the ball against everyone all year. My gut tells me that as long as Mahomes stays healthy, he has enough bullets in his arsenal to make enough plays to will his team to victory. It will once again be on a depleted defense to step up and take over this game. I’m picking the Chiefs, but I don’t feel nearly as confident about it as I did earlier in the week. We should all probably just bet the under. Chiefs 17, Steelers 10
Kramer Sansone (@KramerTalks)
Last Thursday, the Chiefs were able to have their offense show up against a team that wasn’t the Las Vegas Raiders — and going against the Steelers short-handed is going to be a tough ask. This is going to be the game where Clyde Edwards-Helaire will get a lot of targets from the backfield and punch it in a few times. But with Nick Bolton on the Reserve/COVID list, who is going to be the sure tackler against Steelers running back Najee Harris? I think that for both teams, this is going to be a run-first game — and at home, I think the Chiefs have enough to take the Steelers down. Chiefs 28, Steelers 24.
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
I am writing this prediction under the assumption the Chiefs play this game without Hill and Kelce. With key defensive players back, this game will be similar to some of the uglier wins during the current seven-game winning streak. Expect to see the Chiefs’ pass rush make things difficult for the disappointing Steelers offensive line. On offense, the Chiefs will finally get Clyde Edwards-Helaire involved in the passing game; against a Steelers front seven that has struggled against the run, they’ll lean on him early and often. Even without key players, the Chiefs will come out on top in a low-scoring game. Chiefs 21, Steelers 13
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
With all the question marks heading into this football game, it feels foolish to assume the Chiefs will just push past the Steelers and move their winning streak to eight games. Patrick Mahomes without Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce is truly uncharted territory for this offense. We’re in Week 16 — and have yet to see Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Josh Gordon or Demarcus Robinson set themselves apart in any way. Now that all of that is out of the way, the Steelers' offense is atrocious — and outside of T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward, their defense can be burned on multiple levels. This has to be an Andy Reid game; he’ll to have some things dialed up for the offense to succeed. But the defense should be able to do enough against the Pittsburgh offense that the Chiefs still walk out of Arrowhead with a victory. Chiefs 24, Steelers 13
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
The toughest opponent the Chiefs will face this week is the COVID list; if the Chiefs are able to execute their game, little about what the Steelers do is a concern. This team should be focused on finishing strong and getting tuned up for a Super Bowl run, so Sunday is another opportunity for Mahomes to run a smooth offense — perhaps getting Josh Gordon and Mecole Hardman involved in unique ways. In what could be a big day for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the running backs could again carry the load. On defense, expect Melvin Ingram to get to the quarterback — and for the secondary to dominate. Chiefs 35, Steelers 17
Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_)
In a strange way, I almost think it would be fun to see if this team could crank out a win without superstars Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. That being said, I do think the Chiefs will get at least one of those guys back — if not both of them. The Steelers have a weird way about staying in football games even when it feels like they shouldn’t; in recent weeks, we’ve seen them make huge comebacks against the Chargers and Vikings — only to lose those games narrowly. Ultimately — regardless of which receivers the Chiefs have available — I do not see the Pittsburgh offense being able to score enough points to win this game. Led by the defensive line, the Kansas City defense will step up and do as much as is necessary to win. Chiefs 24, Steelers 15
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
This will be my shortest prediction of the year, as we aren’t exactly sure who will be taking the field for the Chiefs’ offense on Sunday. But this year, I’ve watched enough of this Steelers team to know it is incapable of beating Patrick Mahomes when he’s playing the way he did during Thursday night’s fourth quarter. Chiefs 27, Steelers 21
Ethan Willinger (@ecwillinger)
With key perimeter players projected to be sidelined, the Chiefs may have to win this game in the trenches. Kansas City would be wise to attack the Pittsburgh defense up the middle — both to take advantage of its strength on the interior and prevent Watt and Heyward from wreaking havoc off the edge. If the Chiefs can get a push from their offensive line, I like them to win this game — with or without Hill and Kelce. Defensively, the Chiefs will need to be fundamentally sound — stopping the run, keeping the Steelers’ dink-and-dunk passes in front of them and tackling well. If the Chiefs can repeatedly get the Steelers to third down, they will control the flow of the game. As of this writing, I think the Chiefs have enough to emerge victorious in an ugly game. Chiefs 20, Steelers 16
Which team wins Steelers (7-6-1) at Chiefs (10-4)?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout (14 or more points)
Chiefs in an easy win (8-13 points)
Chiefs in a close game (7 or fewer points)
Steelers in a close game
Steelers in an easy win
Steelers in a blowout
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Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
Kristian Gumminger’s prediction for a 33-28 Chiefs victory over the Chargers had just two points of error — the best individual prediction so far this year — which gave him his third win of the season. He now stands alone in the second tier of the standings. Ron Kopp Jr. and Stephen Serda also came very close; their 37-31 and 31-27 picks each missed by only six points. Five other staffers made predictions with only eight points of error.