Pittsburgh (12-5) at Kansas City (12-4)
When: Sunday, January 15th 2017
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Time: 1:05 ET | TV: CBS
The Pittsburgh Steelers bring their high-octane offense into Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday afternoon. The Steelers throttled the Chiefs back in Week 4 by 29 points, but that game was at Heinz Field and this one figures to be a little closer. Pittsburgh was in a similar position to Kansas City a week ago, avenging a lopsided loss at Miami during the regular season with a 30-12 route. Pittsburgh has reeled off eight straight victories, scoring at least 24 points in each, and showed how dynamic they can be in the first postseason game with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell all on the field. Roethlisberger scorched Kansas City with five touchdown passes in Week 4 including three of them over 30 yards and last week tossed a pair of scoring strikes to Brown. The All-Pro receiver became the first player with two TD receptions of at least 50 yards in the first quarter of a playoff game. Bell set a franchise playoff record with 167 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns last week and ran for 144 yards on 18 carries against the Chiefs in Week 4. Pittsburgh’s defense dominated Dolphins’ quarterback Matt Moore, sacking him five times and forcing three turnovers. Pittsburgh’s 35 playoff victories are the most of any team in the NFL.
The Chiefs came back from that Week 3 beating to win 10 of their final 12 games and capture the AFC West title and a bye last week. Speaking of byes, head coach Andy Reid loves the extra week to prepare for games as evident of his lifetime 19-2 record following an off week. That includes a 3-0 record with Philadelphia in the playoffs. While the Chiefs will get homefield advantage in this contest, both of their losses since Week 3 were at Arrowhead – a pair of 19-17 setbacks to Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Quarterback Alex Smith has proven he’s not just a good regular season game-manager, throwing for 11 touchdowns against only one interception in five playoff games. Smith’s favorite target is tight end Travis Kelce, who had 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four TDs, while rookie Tyreek Hill is an all-around weapon. Hill has caught 61 passes for 593 yards and six scores while catching 24 balls for 267 yards and three more scores. He’s also returned three kicks for touchdowns this season (1 KR, 2 PR). Hill is the only player in history with at least three receiving, rushing and return (punt/kick) touchdowns in one season. Kansas City has held three of their last four opponents to under 20 points and are ranked seventh in the league in scoring defense (19.4).
Kansas City has success by taking care of the football and creating turnovers. That has been Reid’s M.O. throughout his career with the Chiefs and Eagles. I just don’t know if they can’t stop a Pittsburgh team that is rolling on offense right now. The Chiefs are not a team that is built to comeback from big deficits and I can see the Steelers getting out to an early lead and quieting the crowd. I’ll take Pittsburgh.
Pick: Steelers +1.5