The Kansas City Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Week 16 game with strong playoff implications for both teams. In the latest edition of Market Movers, let’s take a look at the upward and downward trends we’re seeing among Kansas City’s players.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Last week — regardless of who carried it — the Chiefs struggled to run the football. But as our Ron Kopp Jr. pointed out, the Pittsburgh defense represents an opportunity to get back on track. It’s the perfect game for Andy Reid to consistently and purposefully dial up the running game. Like most backs, Edwards-Helaire needs a substantial number of carries to be the most effective; give him 20-plus touches and he’ll rack up more than 100 yards. That production (and balance) can keep the Steelers’ pass rush at bay — and make sure that this game isn’t very close.
L’Jarius Sneed: It’s clear that the Steelers’ quarterback isn’t what he once was — and as Jeff Hartman discussed in this week’s 5 Questions with the Enemy, Ben Roesthlisberger will be trying to avoid the middle of the field, keeping his passes quick and to the outside. With the versatility (and ball-hawking ability) of the Chiefs’ secondary, getting one-dimensional could lead to multiple turnovers. Sneed can make life miserable for Roethlisberger when he tries to go over the middle — but his closing and tackling ability can also take away his short outside passing game. Following his time away after his family’s tragic loss, Sneed could be making an emotional, triumphant return.
Josh Gordon: After scoring against the Raiders, and missing the Los Angeles Chargers game, Gordon should return this week with a chance to secure a more substantial role for the playoff run. The coaches have given him plenty of snaps and plenty of time to get acclimated. It’s time for their investment to pay off.
Others trending in the right direction: Melvin Ingram, Chris Jones, Travis Kelce and Nick Bolton. (Note: Both Kelce and Bolton had positive COVID tests on Sunday morning and will miss the game).
Demarcus Robinson: After putting up zero production on four targets last week — and with Tyreek Hill returning from the Reserve/COVID list — there’s little reason to believe that Robinson will be a big part of the offense against the Steelers. It’s time for the Chiefs get ready for the playoff run, finding roles for their most talented players. That should add up to a continuing decrease in Robinson’s workload.
Harrison Butker: We can’t blame players for testing positive for COVID. But players — like all of us — have the choice to get vaccinated and minimize that risk. Butker is apparently one of only a couple of Kansas City players who chose not to get vaccinated. Now after testing positive, he’ll miss at least 10 days, requiring the Chiefs to go into key AFC matchups with a kicker just signed off the street. Let’s hope that this game — and others to come — doesn’t come down to a field goal.
Andrew Wylie: Starting right tackle Lucas Niang will miss this game. So Wylie will get another start — this time, facing NFL sack leader T.J Watt. It’s not likely to be a great day for Wylie, who has otherwise been a fairly solid fill-in at right tackle over the recent weeks.
Others trending in the wrong direction: Deandre Baker, Alex Okafor and Mike Remmers.
Value (sleeper) pick
Mecole Hardman: NFL predictions are difficult. Every time we write someone off, they come back with a big game. Whenever we think someone is on a roll, the team goes in a different direction. This has been especially true with Hardman. Heading into the game against the Las Vegas Raiders, his usage had been trending down — and then he came up with a couple of big plays. So just when we thought he was back on track, Hardman was largely ineffective against the Chargers. So against the Steelers, it’s only logical to expect Hardman’s biggest game of the season.