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What a miraculous (possible) final season for Pittsburgh Steelers veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger, a future Hall of Famer whose NFL sunset has been extended with a surprise Wildcard trip to the postseason now the AFC’s 7th playoff seed and a huge underdog to these Chiefs, but never count out the Steelers wicked run game starting rookie RB Najee Harris.
The Kansas City Chiefs have won nine of their last ten games and QB Patrick Mahomes is now in full postseason mode ready to combat whatever the Steelers mighty pass rush wants to give him, now content to work the ball slowly down the field if he must although his playmaker targets Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce can still beat you at will, and now KC’s defense is also for real.
These two AFC rivals have faced each other 36 previous times (including 2 postseason games), with the Kansas City Chiefs winning 13 of those games and the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 23 of the games.
Although nothing has been set in stone just yet, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has hinted strongly that this would be his final season in the NFL, the 2x Super Bowl champion now almost 40 years old and his mobility and ability to take a hit have both gradually receded.
But due to some stellar play by Big Ben at times along with some luck from some other game results throughout the AFC, he and his Steelers get to take on the second playoff seeded Chiefs, a face-to-face encounter with QB Patrick Mahomes that will be worth watching.
Despite his age and surgically repaired throwing arm, Roethlisberger has posted decent numbers this season, with 390 completions for 3,740 yards and 22 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, good enough stats to keep his team in the hunt for one more Big Game.
The Kansas City Chiefs struggle a bit against the run, right now ranked 21st in the league defending a rushing attack after allowing opponents to gain almost 118 yards on the ground per game, a number that could increase in this one against the Steelers rookie RB Najee Harris.
Right now Harris leads the league in total touches (381), averaging 4.4 yards per touch for 1,667 yards from scrimmage as a dual-threat who has scored ten total touchdowns this season, his first in the NFL, a force that could do a lot of damage to Kansas City’s defense.
Expect Chiefs defensive line to give Harris trouble, the group building up its effectiveness as the season has worn on, with playmakers like DEs Melvin Ingram and Frank Clark and DTs Jarran Reed and Chris Jones providing a constant pass rush that keeps opposing QBs scrambling.
The Watt family has NFL blood running through its veins, the two brothers – TJ and JJ – both playing defense in the league right now, with TJ a playmaking LB for the Steelers and his older brother JJ now a DE for the Arizona Cardinals who is out for the postseason with a bad shoulder.
Back in September of last year, the Steelers extended Watt to a four-year deal worth over $112 million with $80 million guaranteed, a contract that made the younger Watt brother the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, money he has since more than earned for Pittsburgh.
Watt led the league with sacks in the regular season, his 22.5 total sacks tying the NFL record set by Michael Strahan years ago, his other numbers equally impressive, with 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 39 QB hits, 7 passes defended, and 64 total tackles with 21 for a loss.
Even though the Chiefs 32-year old TE Travis Kelce is getting up there in football years, his production is still impressive for any age after posting his sixth 1,100+ receiving yards season in a row, this nine-year NFL vet a red zone threat that QB Mahomes is always counting on.
Kelce is the right size for his position at 6’ 5” and 256 pounds, but it is also his quickness and ability to run crisp routes and get open that make him extra valuable to the Chiefs’ offense, this season having caught 92 passes for 1,125 yards and 9 touchdowns, his longest a 69 yarder.
For Kansas City to advance in the playoffs, Kelce will have to bring his A-game to the field, which means not only will he have to be noticeable in the red zone, but he’ll also have to provide some solid blocking at the line for the Chiefs’ 16th ranked rushing attack, as well.
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|Steelers vs Chiefs Information|
|What||Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs|
|Where||Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO|
|When||Sunday, January 16, 2022; 8:15 PM ET|
|How to watch||NBC|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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