If Hollywood was making a movie about Ben Roethlisberger you know how the season would end. Unfortunately in real life Big Ben’s fairytale has a better chance of coming to an end this weekend. Oddsmakers believe that’s the case installing the Pittsburgh Steelers as a 13-point road underdog for their AFC Wild Card matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. The teams met just a few weeks ago and it wasn’t close.
Patrick Mahomes tossed three touchdown passes and the Chiefs cruised 36-10 as a 10.5-point favorite. According to ESPN the Steelers had a less than five percent chance of reaching the postseason before Week 18. Well, here they are with nothing to lose making them a dangerous opponent.
NFL WildCard | Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs Info
The Wild Card playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs will take place at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO at 8:15 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 16, 2022 and will be televised on NBC.
NFL WildCard | Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs Odds
Pittsburgh Steelers +13 | Kansas City Chiefs -13 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 47 [BET NOW]
The spread and total have both been wagered down slightly from when they first hit the board. The Chiefs opened as a 13.5-point favorite with the number now at -13. We typically don’t see spreads this high in a playoff game, but given how the teams closed the season and the result in Week 16, it seems like a good number. The Steelers won three of their final four games going 3-1 ATS.
They had a big win over Tennessee in Week 15 to put themselves in position to reach the postseason. The Chiefs nearly overcame their rugged start to earn a first round bye for a fourth straight season. But even winning nine of their final 10 games couldn’t get them an off week. They do head into this game as one of the hottest teams in the NFL and with Mahomes and the offense looking in form KC cashed the OVER in each of its last five games. They also went 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS in their last six home games.
The Steelers won three of their last four games and probably never imagined they’d be in the playoffs. Following their 16-13 overtime win over Baltimore on Sunday, the Steelers became the biggest Jacksonville fans outside of Florida when the Jags upset Indianapolis. And when it seemed like they were in the Steelers had to sweat out Sunday night’s game. A tie between the Raiders and Chargers would have left them out. A damn tie!
I guess Big Ben is living a charmed life since Vegas kicked a game-winning field goal with no time left in OT. Roethlisberger will have to make something happen offensively but it just doesn’t seem like the Steelers can score a lot of points. They averaged 20.2 points during the regular season but topped the 20-point mark just twice in their last seven games.
That means the defense will have to come through making T.J. Watt an important player. Watt led the NFL with a record-tying 22.5 sacks and the Steelers posted a league-best 55 sacks for the season. They got to Mahomes twice in Week 16 but failed to apply sustained pressure. That has to change on Sunday. They don’t have to record sacks, but the Steelers have to disrupt Mahomes’s rhythm and make him throw the ball when he doesn’t want to.
Kansas City Chiefs
This is unchartered territory for Mahomes, who will be playing in the Wild Card round for the first time in his career. In each of his first three seasons the Chiefs earned a first-round bye making their path to the Super Bowl a little easier. While that’s a good nugget I’m sure it means absolutely nothing to Mahomes and Andy Reid. What does mean something is the health of Tyreek Hill.
The speedy receiver is dealing with a foot injury that limited him to just one catch last week. Over his last three games Hill has nine receptions for 61 yards. Mecole Hardman stepped up on Saturday with eight catches for 103 yards, his first career 100-yard receiving game. And they still have Travis Kelce, so don’t worry about the passing game.
The defense took a step back the last two games allowing a total of 58 points to Cincinnati and Denver. I could see that against the Bengals, who boast a trio of talented receivers and a former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. But giving up 24 points to the inept Broncos was tough. The D came up with the biggest play of that game, though, when Nick Bolton returned a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown. The group also held Denver to one TD in three red zone trips. Pittsburgh was 1 of 4 in the red zone in the first meeting and Roethlisberger was held to 159 passing yards before being yanked.
Steelers vs Chiefs Predictions
Things typically tighten up at playoff time and the Steelers need to keep the points to a minimum to have a chance. With nothing to lose I expect Pittsburgh will come out blazing and those 13 points are hard to pass up. The Steelers get a do-over and while they won’t win, I’ll back the points.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers +13 and UNDER 47