For Pete's Sake

Five things to know about the Chiefs’ next opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Kansas City Chiefs 2017 regular-season schedule reveal

The Chiefs will play six primetime games in their 2017 regular-season schedule, released Thursday by the NFL.
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The Chiefs will play six primetime games in their 2017 regular-season schedule, released Thursday by the NFL.

A weird thing will happen when the Chiefs kick off Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium.

It’s not going to be night.

The Chiefs play five games in October and four are prime-time contests. Sunday is the lone exception. However, kickoff is at 3:25 p.m., so perhaps the lights will be on by the time the game finishes.

During the season, I’ll provide a quick overview of the next Chiefs’ opponent early in each week, and here are a few things to know about the Steelers, who have a 3-2 record.

1. Run defense

The Steelers have the top passing defense in the NFL heading into Monday night’s game, as they have allowed 139.6 yards per game. Overall, Pittsburgh’s defense is fourth in the league (276.2 yards per game), and the Steelers’ defense have allowed just 25 points in the last two games.

The run defense has been a problem, however.

On Sunday, the Jaguars piled up 231 yards on the ground in a 30-9 win at Pittsburgh. Leonard Fournette had 181 yards and 90 came on this run:

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw just one second-half pass on Sunday, so it wasn’t like Jacksonville was being deceptive. In the Steelers’ other loss this season, the Chicago Bears ran for 222 yards in a 23-17 overtime victory on Sept. 24.

So, Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt may get a few carries on Sunday.

2. Ben Roethlisberger

The Steelers’ run defense wasn’t the only problem Sunday. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in the game, including a pair of pick-sixs.

That led to a comparison that is sure to make Pittsburgh fans groan:

Roethlisberger, who is 35, told reporters after the game: “Maybe I don’t have it anymore. I’m not playing well enough.”

Jacksonville safety Barry Church told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Roethlisberger looked flustered.

“Oh yeah, we could definitely tell,” Church told Joe Starkey. “We were showing him multiple looks. He would go to first look, third look, man, and he would get flustered trying to make one of those miraculous Big Ben plays.”

Roethlisberger has completed 120 of 195 passes for 1,269 yards this season. He has six touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

3. Keep an eye on this Watt

Steelers rookie linebacker T.J. Watt is having a nice season.

Watt had his third sack of the season on Sunday, which is tied for the Steelers’ team lead. Watt also is tied for fourth in tackles with 19. He has one interception, to boot.

On Sunday, Watt chipped in two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. He is the younger brother of Texans star J.J. Watt.

4. Le’Veon Bell

The last time KC fans saw Steelers star Le’Veon Bell, he was running all over the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in January.

Bell ran for 170 yards in 30 attempts that rainy evening. This season, he is fifth in the NFL with 371 yards on the ground (3.6 yards per attempt), and he has 144 receiving yards.

Since Bell entered the NFL in 2013, he has thrived in October. He has 2,092 yards in the month, which is well ahead of second place DeMarco Murray, who has 1,833 yards in that span.

Inexplicably, the Steelers handed off to Bell just 15 times in Sunday’s loss, even though the Jaguars had the worst run defense in the NFL entering the game.

5. Wide receivers

Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant returned this year after he was suspended for repeated drug violations and missed the entire 2016 season.

The expectation was that Bryant would be another offensive weapon for the Steelers, joining Bell and receiver Antonio Brown.

Instead, Bryant has been underwhelming. He has caught just 15 passes for 204 yards. Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette noted this Sunday in giving the Steelers receivers a “D” grade: “There’s something wrong with the scheme when Martavis Bryant has five catches for a 4.2-yard average.”

Brown is leading the NFL in receiving yards with 545, but he has just one touchdown catch.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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