The Kansas City Chiefs remained the only undefeated team in the NFL after coming away with a victory against the Houston Texans on Sunday night. This week, the Chiefs welcome a team that has had their number recently, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, the Steelers thrashed Kansas City 43-14 in Pittsburgh as the Steelers were coming off of a 34-3 embarrassment the week before. This season, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are coming into Arrowhead after falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9. Here are the Chiefs Week Six Keys to Victory.
Week Six Kansas City Chiefs Keys to Victory
Tackle on Defense
Everyone here remembers the debacle of the Chiefs playoff loss to the Steelers in 2016. The Chiefs could not stop Le’Veon Bell, leading to the running back gaining 170 yards on the ground in route to an 18-16 Steelers victory. Bell’s performance was highlighted by missed tackles and over-pursuit by the Chiefs defenders throughout the entire game. While Kansas City was able to keep Bell out of the end zone, Bell’s effectiveness on the ground was enough to get the Steelers into scoring position on multiple drives.
Fast forward to 2017, however, and the Steelers offense has not gotten on track yet. The Steelers offense currently ranks 17th overall, coming in at 12th in passing offense and 24th in rushing offense. Even though the numbers are not quite there, the playmakers still are.
It’s not responsible to expect the Steelers offense to falter all season long. At some point, the offense will look like its previous self when the playmakers get back on track. The offensive line has performed pretty well in pass protection, only allowing nine sacks through five games, including giving up just two last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars – who happen to lead the league in sacks.
If Kansas City wants to remain undefeated, the Chiefs have to be patient and tackle this weekend. The Steelers are going to lean on Bell and a short passing game with the eventual deep shot to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Having Derrick Johnson and Reggie Ragland patrolling the middle of the field will hopefully help Kansas City be more successful than the last meeting with the Steelers.
Pressure Ben Roethlisberger
Something is off with Ben Roethlisberger – there is no denying that. Roethlisberger has only thrown six touchdowns while racking up seven interceptions including five last week against the Jaguars. Roethlisberger seems to be missing wide open receivers and is indecisive when going through his progressions. It will be up to the Chiefs secondary to lure Roethlisberger into mistakes and to take advantage of the opportunities they have to intercept any errant throws.
The best way to force Roethlisberger into those mistakes is to pressure him and get him on the move. Last week, the Steelers quarterback was pressured into throwing one hoppers or sailing it over the receivers head. If the Chiefs can get consistent pressure, they will likely force Roethlisberger into more than a few errant throws that could be intercepted by the ball-hawking corners.
As of this breakdown, there is no word yet on the status of Justin Houston or Dee Ford. It’s likely that Houston will be healthy and ready to go on Sunday, but there has been very little good news for Ford since he injured his hip a few weeks ago. Kansas City would get a huge boost by having both of their premier pass rushers available this weekend.
Be Physical on Offense
While the Steelers offense is definitely struggling, the defense is still very fast and very physical. Ryan Shazier, Mike Mitchell and rookie T.J. Watt will play with reckless abandon throughout the game and try to set the tone with big hits when they can. Kansas City has to be able to meet this physicality on Sunday.
The Chiefs may be without starting offensive linemen Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif again this Sunday, forcing them to play another week with a makeshift offensive line. The starting five played pretty well against the Houston Texans last week, but there is obviously a drop off from the physicality of Morse and Duvernay-Tardif.
The Steelers are currently ranked 28th in the league at stopping the run, which is something the Chiefs can exploit. Leaning on Kareem Hunt early and often can eat up clock and provide Kansas City with long, sustained drives. The Chiefs do need to be better at punching it in in the red zone this week and not rely on Harrison Butker to kick five field goals.
The Steelers boast the second best pass defense in the NFL – but that may be a result of the quarterbacks the team has faced this year. Deshone Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon, Joe Flacco and Blake Bortles are all performing very poorly this year, and three of the players have been benched this year for poor performance. This weekend, the Steelers will face Alex Smith, who is performing at an MVP level through five weeks of the season.
The Chiefs passing game excels in the middle of the field, which seems to be the weakest point of the secondary for Pittsburgh. A healthy Travis Kelce could be huge this weekend, but his status is up in the air as he is in the concussion protocol. The Chiefs should provide updates on Kelce, Ford, Morse and Duvernay-Tardif within the next couple of days.