The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, January 15th in the AFC Divisional Round. This will be a rematch of the lopsided defeat the Steelers handed the Chiefs on October 2nd at Heinz Field. They prevailed 43-14 as 3-point home favorites.
Kansas City (12-4) clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC with its 37-27 win at San Diego in the regular season finale. The Chiefs also got help from the Broncos, who beat the Raiders in Week 17 by a final of 24-6 to knock Oakland out of a division title and first-round bye.
Pittsburgh (12-5) won the AFC North this season and enters the contest on an eight-game winning streak. The latest was a dominant 30-12 home victory over the Miami Dolphins as 11-point favorites in the wild card round.
Kickoff inside Arrowhead Stadium is set for 1:05 EST Sunday afternoon with NBC providing the television coverage. According to the latest NFL odds, Kansas City is a 1.5-point favorite over Pittsburgh with a total set of 44.5 points.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing as well as anyone in the NFL right now. They went on a four-game losing streak midseason, but they have reeled off eight straight victories since. They key has been getting their Big 3 on the field all at the same time in Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
In fact, last week’s game against Miami was the first time that Big Ben, Bell and Brown have all been available at the same time for a playoff game. And the result was a good one. The Steelers thumped the Dolphins 30-12. Brown caught two touchdowns from Roethlisberger in the first quarter to give the Steelers a 14-0 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Bell tacked on two rushing touchdowns later on to seal it.
The Steelers have been winning the box scores consistently, too. They have actually outgained 10 of their last 11 opponents. The only exception was in Week 17 when they rested their Big 3 and had nothing to play for against the Cleveland Browns. They still managed to win that game to keep their momentum going, and this team feels like they are unbeatable right now.
Kansas City may be 12-4, but it has the numbers of a 7-9 team and one that is clearly not one of the best teams in the NFL. In fact, the Chiefs rank 28th in the league in yardage differential, getting outgained by an average of 25.5 yards per game on the season. Only the Dolphins, Rams, Browns and 49ers have been worse, so they are some pretty poor company.
Pittsburgh is 8-0 ATS versus poor defensive teams that allow 350 or more yards per game in the second half of the season over the last two seasons.
Kansas City has been winning with smoke and mirrors this season. The Chiefs lead the NFL in turnover differential, which has been the biggest key. They also have more points scored from their defense and special teams than any other team in the league. While that kind of stuff can happen during the regular season, it doesn’t happen against elite teams like the Steelers.
We saw that first-hand earlier this season when the Steelers stomped the Chiefs 43-14 at Heinz Field. I was all over the Steelers in that game as one of my biggest bets of the season. Roethlisberger finished 22-of-27 passing for 300 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions, while Bell rushed for 144 yards on only 18 carries in the win.
Plays against favorites (KANSAS CITY) – revenging a loss against opponent, after two consecutive covers as a favorite are 34-12 (73.9%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. If this were a regular season game, then I’d think more of the revenge factor working in favor of the Chiefs. But the Steelers will be just as motivated to win this game, and they have the tools to do it now that almost everyone is healthy.
Pittsburgh is 8-0 ATS versus poor defensive teams that allow 350 or more yards per game in the second half of the season over the last two seasons. The Steelers are 9-1 ATS after gaining 6.5 or more yards per play in their previous game over the last two seasons. Kansas City is 2-11 ATS in its last 13 playoff games. The Steelers are 20-7-2 ATS in their last 29 road games vs. a team with a winning home record. Pittsburgh is 12-3-3 ATS in its last 18 January games. Kansas City is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 home games, and 0-4 ATS in its last four playoff home games.