Chiefs

Chiefs-Steelers scouting report

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (right) has established himself as one of the best in the league.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (right) has established himself as one of the best in the league. The Associated Press

When the Chiefs run

EDGE >> CHIEFS

The Steelers’ run defense has been solid, ranking 11th in the NFL. However, the Chiefs’ run offense ranks seventh. The Steelers will try to take away star Jamaal Charles, so it’s up to the Chiefs’ line to win the line of scrimmage. Coach Andy Reid has helped them do that with his playcalling, which features plenty of misdirection and plays to his line’s strengths. Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons has good instincts and is good against the run.

Chiefs’ top rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

J. Charles

184

950

5.2

9

When the Chiefs pass

EDGE >> STEELERS

The Steelers’ pass defense has struggled, ranking 25th in the league. The Chiefs will need to attack a speed-deficient secondary, particularly deep, but their offensive line has allowed 39 sacks, which ranks 23rd in the league. While the Steelers haven’t gotten many sacks — they rank 27th in the league with 24 — individual players like defensive end Cam Heyward, a rising star, and a trio of pass-rushing linebackers — Jason Worilds, Arthur Moats and James Harrison — could overwhelm a unit that has often struggled.

Chiefs’ top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

A. Smith

272

419

2,954

18-6

Chiefs’ top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

T. Kelce

56

747

13.3

5

When the Steelers run

EDGE >> STEELERS

Second-year back Le’Veon Bell is having an incredible year. He is a huge (6-1, 244) with quick feet, good vision and the ability to power through tackles. He’s exactly the kind of player who can exploit a defense that ranks 28th in the NFL against the run and has struggled with its tackling and gap discipline. Maurkice Pouncey is one of the league’s best centers. .

Steelers’ top rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

L. Bell

262

1,278

4.9

7

When the Steelers pass

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Ben Roethlisberger is in the midst of another excellent season, but he’s been sacked 32 times. That bodes well for a pass rush that ranks seventh in the league with 39 sacks and features one of the game’s elite pass rushers, Justin Houston, who has 17 sacks. He and the Chiefs’ other pass rushers better get to Roethlisberger. If not, receiver Antonio Brown and his young running mate, the imposing Martavis Bryant (6-4, 211) will tear them up.

Steelers’ top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

B. Roethlisberger

366

545

4,415

29-8

Steelers’ top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

A. Brown

115

1,498

13

11

Special teams

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Unlike the Chiefs, who have returned a kick and a punt for touchdowns, the Steelers have failed to get a return touchdown. Punter Dustin Colquitt has the clear edge over Pittsburgh’s Brad Wing, while Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham has been more accurate than Cairo Santos. The Steelers have allowed a return touchdown (on a kickoff), while the Chiefs haven’t.

Coaching

EDGE >> STEELERS

The Steelers’ staff gets the edge with a slightly stronger resume. Chiefs coach Andy Reid has been doing it longer than Mike Tomlin (left), and you can certainly argue he’s been a larger reason for his team’s success than Tomlin, who stepped into a franchise with a well-established and successful culture. However, Tomlin has guided to the Steelers to one more Super Bowl appearance and one more Super Bowl victory than Reid. .

X-factor

EDGE >> STEELERS

The Chiefs will get a break because it appears snow is not in the forecast, but the home crowd will be into this one. Unlike the Chiefs, who could drop out of the playoff picture with a loss, the Steelers can clinch a playoff berth with a win.

Bottom line: Steelers 23-20

Look for the Chiefs’ coaching staff to throw its best stuff at the Steelers, and look for the players to bring their “A” games. This is the kind of high-stakes game that coaches and front offices can use to make their evaluations come the offseason. It will be close, and the Chiefs may win, but Pittsburgh is the favorite.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TerezPaylor.

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