The Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) Sunday night on NBC in the AFC Wild Card round. These teams played each other during the regular season on December 26. The Chiefs dominated that game-winning 36-10 as a 10.5 point favorite. Kansas City would love to see the same results with the stakes raised this time around. The forecast at Arrowhead Stadium currently calls for a partly cloudy night with 26-degree weather.
The Chiefs have won nine of their last 10 games and beat the Broncos to end the regular season 28-24 as a 10.5-point favorite. The Steelers have won their last two games and beat the Ravens 16-13 in overtime last Sunday as a three-point dog.
Entering the playoffs the Chiefs have the second-best odds to win the Super Bowl at +500. The Steelers are tied for the least likely odds, along with the Eagles at +6500, according to Bovada.
Big Ben's story still being writtenThe playoffs seemed to be an afterthought following the Steelers' embarrassing loss to the Chiefs on Week 16. The game was even less competitive than the 26-point final margin indicated. The Chiefs led 30-0 in the third quarter, and Pittsburgh committed all three of the game's turnovers. It was a rough day for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who went 23 of 35 passing for 159 yards with one touchdown and interception. Big Ben also lost a fumble and was sacked twice. Following the loss to Kansas City, focus shifted to a Monday Night game in Pittsburgh that was announced as likely to be the 39-year-old quarterback's last game at Heinz Field. The Steelers beat the Browns 26-14, which kept their playoff hopes alive for the final week of the regular season.
Everything went right for the Steelers last Sunday. They beat the Ravens 16-13 in overtime, and the Indianapolis Colts were also stunned by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Once the Sunday Night Football game between the Chargers and Raiders did not end in a tie, the Steelers playoff spot finally was secured.
Leading Pittsburgh into Kansas City is head coach Mike Tomlin, who has compiled a 154-85-2 regular-season record and 8-8 mark in the playoffs with one Super Bowl victory. At worst, Tomlin has finished 8-8 three times but has never had a losing season since taking over in 2007. Still, Pittsburgh ended last season with a first-round loss to the Cleveland Browns and has not won a playoff game since they beat the Chiefs 18-16 on January 15, 2017, in the AFC Divisional round.
Pittsburgh was 21st in the NFL in scoring averaging 20.2 ppg. They are 15th throwing for 222.2 yards per game and 29th rushing for 93.1 yards per contest. Big Ben is 25th in the NFL with a 35.8 QBR, 15th with 3,740 passing yards, 14th with 22 touchdowns, and ninth with 10 interceptions.
Defensively, the Steelers are led by linebacker T.J. Watt who leads the NFL with 22.5 sacks, and is fifth with five forced fumbled. Watt has managed to out up those numbers despite missing two games this season. As a unit, Pittsburgh is ninth in the NFL allowing 215.1 passing yards per game, but dead last allowing 146.1 rushing yards per game. They are allowing 23.4 ppg, which is 20th.
The good news for Pittsburgh is that they will have WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) for the first time since early October.
Chiefs favored to come out of AFCThe Kansas City Chiefs had a 3-4 record after their first seven games following a 27-3 loss to the Tennesse Titans on October 27. Following the rout in Nashville, Kansas City went on a tear, winning their next eight games, including the 36-10 win over the Steelers. The winning streak ended when the Chiefs blew a 28-14 second-quarter lead against the Cincinnati Bengals on their way to a 34-31 loss. Following that loss, Kansas City was not extra sharp in the regular-season finale last Saturday, but they pulled off a 28-24 win over the Denver Broncos. With the Titan's win over the Houston Texans to end the season, the Chiefs are the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
The Chiefs outgained the Broncos 390 to 364 in total yardage, but the momentum shifted for good when Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball with less than eight minutes remaining and the Broncos leading 21-20. Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton recovered the fumble and ran it back 86 yards for a touchdown. After the successful two-point conversion, the Chiefs had a 28-21 lead with 7:42 left, and they held on the rest of the way.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 270 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 54 yards to lead the win over the Broncos. On the season, Mahomes is fifth in the NFL with a 62.6 QBR. He is also fourth with 4,839 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. His 13 interceptions are tied for 19th in the NFL. The offense is fourth averaging 28.2 ppg, fourth with 281.8 passing yards, and 16th with 115 rushing yards per contest. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill is third in the NFL with 111 catches and has 1,249 yards and nine touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce also has nine touchdowns, with 92 catches and 1,1125 yards.
The Kansas City defense is 27th in the NFL, allowing 251.4 passing yards per game and 21st allowing 117.6 rushing yards. Opponents have scored 21.4 ppg against them, ranking as the eighth-best scoring defense.
The head coach for the Chiefs is Andy Reid. Reid is 233-135-1 all-time in the regular season between his start in Philadelphia and now Kansas City, where he has held his current position since 2013. Reid is 17-15 all-time in the playoffs, 7-6 during his time with Kansas City, including a Super Bowl win.
Trends courtesy of covers.com
- Chiefs are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight-up win
- Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 playoff home games
- Steelers are 1-4-2 ATS in their last 7 playoff road games.
- Steelers are 2-6-2 ATS in their last 10 playoff games