The Pittsburgh Steelers will play host to their first Monday Night football game in over four years as they welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Heinz Field. Pittsburgh’s resurgence in the AFC North race took another step forward last week when they went on the road and defeated the New York Giants. Kansas City has not fared so well this season despite many experts believing that the Chiefs had the makeup of a playoff team. Well, at 1-7, the Chiefs have led for exactly ZERO snaps on the season. (The game they won came on an overtime field goal over the Saints)
Pittsburgh has turned around a pedestrian start. Now, its offense is clicking with a nice balance between their efficient passing game and what has become a bruising running game. Kansas City has one of the shiftiest runners in the league in Jamaal Charles, alongside Mike Alstott-wannabe Peyton Hillis. The Chiefs’ passing game has been dreadful – both Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn have contributed far more turnovers (17) than touchdowns (7).
Ten Fearless Predictions
1. The Chiefs take a lead? All streaks eventually come to an end, so don’t be surprised if Kansas City is ahead on the scoreboard at some point during the game. But…expect it to be early and very brief.
2. Matt Cassel will account for multiple turnovers. Ok, so this isn’t a fearless prediction, but Pittsburgh has only forced eight turnovers all year. Seeing three or four forced turnovers would be a welcome sight for Steeler Nation. Steeler linebackers will harass Cassel, causing multiple sacks and forcing many errant throws. Just remember – Cassel was good enough to be a back-up for Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart in college, so he’s definitely worthy of being a starting NFL QB!
3. Gadget plays – Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was the head coach of the Chiefs last year…and the acrimony between he and Chiefs’ GM Scott Pioli is well-known. Haley would love nothing better than to run up the score on and embarrass his former boss. So…when the Steelers approach midfield, watch for flea flickers, halfback passes, or something equally “gadgety” in design.
4. Emmanuel Sanders is going to improve offseason contract negotiations with his play on Monday. Mike Wallace may be the deep threat, but with Antonio Brown out, Sanders will show off his superb route-running, and perhaps his kickoff/punt return acumen (if Chris Rainey misses the game with his rib injury). Maybe this week, the punter won’t be the one bringing him down!
5. Tamba Hali will abuse Mike Adams. Pittsburgh offensive playcalling will likely resort to lots of chips by RBs on Hali, along with double teams to combat Hali’s relentless pass rush.
6. Pittsburgh’s improving secondary will again be a strength in this game. Keenan Lewis’ coverage has been tremendous in recent weeks and last week’s AFC defensive player of the week, Ike Taylor, neutralized top-end WR Victor Cruz. Taylor will again take the coverage of the opponents’ top WR, Dwayne Bowe.
7. Jamaal Charles will break at least one big run against Pittsburgh. He is the type of runner that could cause fits to the Steelers – short, quick feet, great cutting ability.
8. Pittsburgh’s RBs will post 150-200 rushing yards. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have been quite impressive at toting the rock over the past few weeks. As the Steelers grind out yards on Monday, the O-line will wear out the Chiefs’ front seven defenders.
9. Pittsburgh will dominate the time of possession, something along the lines of 37 minutes to 23 minutes. Too many turnovers and a lack of sustained passing game will doom Kansas City.
10. Steelers 34, Chiefs 13. Pop quiz – when was the last time that Pittsburgh lost a game in the Steel City on a Monday night? Let’s put it this way – Chuck Noll was head coach and Neil O’Donnell replaced Bubby Brister at QB in this game in an attempt to rally the troops. George H.W. Bush was President. Pittsburgh lost 23-20 to the Ray Handley-led New York Giants on October 14, 1991. This streak of Monday night victories at home will continue against the future employer of Matt Barkley.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.