Preview: Kansas City at Pittsburgh
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 21, 2014
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Pittsburgh Steelers look to clinch an AFC playoff spot and Kansas City needs a hot finish to land a berth, beginning with the Chiefs’ visit to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Pittsburgh sits a half-game behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North and is tied with conference-rival Baltimore for the two AFC wild-card spots but can guarantee itself a spot by beating Kansas City. The Chiefs are one of three teams – San Diego and Buffalo are the others – that reside one game out in the wild-card race with two to play.
The Steelers missed the playoffs the past two seasons so there is an urgent feel to get back into the postseason. “We win, we’re in, and that’s all that really matters,” running back Le’Veon Bell told reporters. “We don’t have to worry about any other teams or what they’re doing or who lost or who won.” Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith called on his teammates to embrace the situation. “You’ve been working hard to put yourself in this position,” Smith told reporters. “You wanted the stages to be more meaningful and here we are. You still have life and you’re still in it.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -3. O/U: 46.5.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (8-6): Smith is 46 yards away from his third career 3,000-yard passing season and he also has 18 touchdowns against six interceptions. Jamaal Charles is 50 yards away from his fifth 1,000-yard rushing season and he is still battling knee and ankle injuries from a hit suffered against Arizona on Dec. 7. Outside linebacker Justin Houston is having a superb season with 17 sacks, tied for the most in the NFL and second in franchise history behind Derrick Thomas (20 in 1990). The fourth-year pro has two or more sacks five times this season, including a three-sack outing against the St. Louis Rams.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (9-5): Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has guided a high-octane attack by throwing for 29 touchdowns and ranking second in the NFL with 4,415 yards. Bell has been spectacular with 2,043 combined yards from scrimmage and ranks second in the NFL with 1,278 on the ground, while standout receiver Antonio Brown has 11 scoring receptions and leads the league in both receptions (115) and receiving yardage (1,498). Right tackle Marcus Gilbert is expected to return after missing three games with knee and ankle injuries, which is good timing with Houston lining up on that side. “Justin, he’s improved every year and he can only get better,” Gilbert told reporters. “He’s been playing like he’s got a chip on his shoulder.”
1. Brown has at least 90 receiving yards in 12 of Pittsburgh’s 14 games.
2. No Kansas City WR has caught a touchdown pass this season, including Dwayne Bowe – who had an NFL-leading 15 TD catches in 2010.
3. Steelers OLB Lawrence Timmons has a team-high 108 tackles.
PREDICTION: Steelers 26, Chiefs 21
Stats and Records
Pittsburgh Off vs
Kansas City Def