The AFC-leading Kansas City Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, as Pittsburgh somehow remains in the mix to win a wide-open AFC North. Kansas City's won seven straight and can continue a push for home-field advantage and the lone bye available with an eighth win on the bounce.
Here are our free NFL picks and predictions for Steelers vs. Chiefs with kickoff on December 26.
Steelers vs Chiefs odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
The Chiefs hit the board as 10- or 10.5-point favorites, depending on the book, but have since moved to between -7.5 and -8.5. The total opened at 46.5 but has been bet down to 44.5.
Steelers vs Chiefs predictions
- Prediction: Chiefs -7.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Under 44.5 (-110)
- Best bet: Harris Over 3.5 receptions (+102)
Predictions made on 12/23/2021 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Steelers vs Chiefs game info
• Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
• Date: Sunday, December 26, 2021
• Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
• TV: CBS
Steelers at Chiefs betting preview
Steelers: Pat Freiermuth TE (Out), Eric Ebron TE (Out), Stephen Tuitt DE (Out).
Chiefs: Lucas Niang T (Out), Nick Bolton LB (Out), Travis Kelce TE (Out), Khalen Saunders DT (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Chiefs are 5-0 ATS in their last five games. Find more NFL betting trends for Steelers vs. Chiefs.
Steelers vs Chiefs picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
The Chiefs have won seven straight, largely on the back of a resurgent defense, but have seen Patrick Mahomes and the offense come to the party over the last two weeks as well. Kansas City's streak has pushed it atop the AFC and into a great position to make the conference go through Arrowhead in January.
Questions remain around Mahomes and the offense's ability to score at will but in a conference that looks more and more likely to be challenged by teams like the Colts and Patriots, elite efficiency and a strong defense could be enough — and Kansas City has both.
The Chiefs are up to 10th in weighted DVOA on defense and are giving up the 16th most points per drive, while they're just outside the Top 10 in red zone scoring rate against over the last three games.
The offense has never wavered from being among the NFL's most efficient, ranking first in yards per drive and drive success rate, and second in points per drive. While they are a middling 17th in explosive play rate, they're third over the last two weeks as Kansas City exploited good matchups.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, doesn't exactly have anything to fall back on. Its running game is horribly inefficient, 27th in DVOA, and while the passing game is a touch better (21st) it relies on long, tedious drives, as only the Panthers, Texans, Giants, and Titans create fewer explosive plays. Put it all together and you have an offense that's 20th in scoring and in the bottom 10 in all per-drive metrics.
The Steelers remain maddeningly undead but the Chiefs' defense simply will not let them keep it close, and the efficiency of Mahomes and the offense will find success against a strong Pittsburgh secondary.
Prediction: Chiefs -7.5 (-110)
While obviously the total (evidenced by movement already this week), and the Chiefs' offense, are impacted by Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill's uncertain availability, our pick here is unchanged regardless of their status.
The best unit in this matchup is Kansas City's defense, which has been among the league's best for two months now. The Chiefs are up to 10th in weighted DVOA on defense and weighed down by their 20th ranked run defense, which hardly matters as much as stopping the pass.
They've held their opponent under 20 points in seven of their last nine games, with four of those opponents finishing under double-digits. Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu, the defense's two best players, are once again playing like it after tough starts. Kansas City creates turnovers and pressure at a high rate, and consistently finishes strong under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Chiefs can hold Pittsburgh to a brutal day on offense.
On the other side of the ball, it remains difficult to trust Kansas City's offense, even on the back of two encouraging performances — especially with Kelce and Hill facing uncertainty this week. The Steelers' defense has underwhelmed for most of the season but the unit is coming off a game-winning performance in which the two stars, T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, dominated. The Chiefs don't need to be their old, explosive selves to beat this Steelers team, and they may not be able to be that offense should Hill and Kelce remain on the COVID list.
Either way, with a defense bordering on elite in KC and a brutally lethargic offense in Pittsburgh, we're taking the Under here.
Prediction: Under 44.5 (-110)
As the clock winds down on Ben Roethlisberger's career, the statuesque passer has become the embodiment of "I'm too old for this shit" more and more. There have been some truly comical check downs and burned throws as Roethlisberger's priorities have started and ended with keeping himself upright.
A result of Roethlisberger's quick trigger has been a massive role for running back Najee Harris in the passing game, with Ben all too happy to put his rookie runner in tough spots provided it means he stays clean. Harris is second among all tailbacks in receptions, with 62, and trailing just Diontae Johnson in catches on his own team.
Harris should see plenty of check downs Sunday as Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense faces a Spagnuolo defense that loves to create pressure. Kansas City's defense is second in hurries, eighth in blitz rate, and fifth in pressure rate as the pass rush has come alive in recent weeks with Jones and Frank Clark reemerging as factors.
As the Chiefs have for most of the season, they'll create plenty of pressure on Sunday. When they do, Roethlisberger will be quick to get the ball out and to his rookie tailback.
Pick: Najee Harris Over 3.5 receptions (+102)