Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
KANSAS CITY – (Wire Service Preview by The Sports Xchange) – The Pittsburgh Steelers flashed their offensive might last week in a drubbing of Miami in their wild-card game, but their best offensive performance of the season came in a 29-point thrashing of the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4. The Chiefs get a chance to exact some revenge – this time on their home field – when they host Pittsburgh in the AFC Divisional Round on Sunday.
Kansas City fell into a 22-point hole after one quarter in the 43-14 loss at Pittsburgh, but it recovered to win 10 of its final 12 games to claim the AFC West title and No. 2 seed. “This team understands how far we’ve come from that game,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who acknowledged the Steelers will be “a big challenge,” told reporters. Pittsburgh was in a similar position to Kansas City a week ago, avenging a lopsided loss at Miami during the regular season with a resounding 30-12 victory. “We have to understand that the same passion and dedication that we put in to beat Miami, that’s how Kansas City is going to try to beat us,” Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell told reporters.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Chiefs -1.5. O/U: 44
ABOUT THE STEELERS: Pittsburgh has ripped off eight straight victories, scoring at least 24 points in each, and showed how explosive it can be in the first postseason game with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Bell all on the field. Roethlisberger burned Kansas City with five touchdown passes and last week tossed a pair of scoring strikes to Brown, who 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 shredded the Chiefs for 144 yards on 18 carries in Week 4. Pittsburgh’s defense feasted on Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, sacking him five times and forcing three turnovers.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (12-4): While the home-field edge obviously should make a huge difference from the first meeting, both of Kansas City’s losses since the rout at Pittsburgh game at Arrowhead Stadium – a pair of 19-17 setbacks to Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Quarterback Alex Smith long has carried the tag of “game manager,” but he takes care of the ball in the postseason, throwing for 11 touchdowns against only one interception in five playoff games. Smith’s favorite target is tight end Travis Kelce, who made 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four TDs, while rookie Tyreek Hill is an emerging weapon in the return game, as well as at wide receiver and in the backfield. The bye week allowed running back Spencer Ware (rib) and linebacker Justin Houston (knee) to heal.
1. Three of Roethlisberger’s five TD passes in Week 4 went for at least 30 yards.
2. Hill is the only player in history with at least three receiving, rushing and return (punt/kick) touchdowns in one season.
3. Pittsburgh has 35 playoff victories, the most of any team.