Friday, November 09, 2012

It's Jamal the Rage: Chiefs at Steelers Preview

Here's the thing: The Steelers need to win this game and they absolutely should win this game.  I went with a horrible, pun-laden title for this post, because there's not a whole lot to say.

The Kansas City Chiefs are an awful, awful team.  We're eight games into the season and they haven't had a lead in regulation yet.  Both of their quarterbacks have been concussed at some point this year.  Jamaal Charles, who was supposed to be a superstar coming off an ACL injury, has been largely underwhelming.  Dwayne Bowe is in a contract year and he's projected to end up with 90 catches for a little over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.  They just cut cornerback Stanford Routt after signing him to a long term deal in the offseason.  Opposing quarterbacks have a 106.3 passer rating against them.  They have a -20 turnover differential and a -107 point differential.

Meanwhile, the Steelers are certainly trending up.  The offensive line is coming together, the defense is playing tough and disciplined, and special teams is starting to turn the corner.

All this makes it look like Monday night's game is going to be a blowout.  While I hope that happens -- I could always go for a good blowout -- I have a sinking "Tyler Palko Game" feeling about this one.

The Steelers tend to play down to the level of competition.  Many of the guys on Kansas City's defense that were on the roster last year are on the roster this year.  The same defensive backs that were able to jam the Steelers receivers at the line of scrimmage, then turn and run with them down the field last season, are still on the roster.  Last season, the Steelers couldn't get anything going on the ground, then tried to pass their way out of it.  When that failed, they hung on for dear life and narrowly defeated a Chiefs team that started Tyler Palko at quarterback.

Despite all that, I still think the Steelers are going to roll on Monday.

  1. They shouldn't struggle running the ball, which should give them balance on offense.  It will also give them the ability to neutralize Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, who are the only two guys they have to fear when Ben Roethlisberger drops back to pass.
  2. Since Bruce Arians is not calling the plays, the "dink and dunk" passes that Todd Haley has been calling should make it tough for Kansas City to pressure Roethlisberger and help him get into a rhythm early.
  3. Dwayne Bowe does not scare me and I think Ike Taylor matches up with him very well.  I don't think Bowe is going to win this game for the Chiefs.
  4. Jamaal Charles is the wild card.  He could take over the game like he did in New Orleans earlier this season and pull Kansas City out of Suckville.  However, I don't see that happening.  He's not getting the ball as much as he used to and, even when he has gotten the ball, he hasn't done much with the opportunities.
Even if Charles does explode on Monday night, I think the Steelers will be able to score enough to offset that.  Actually, considering the fact that I'm starting Charles on two of my fantasy teams, him having a huge game wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.  Again, even if he does, I don't think the Chiefs have enough to win at Heinz Field.

They have too much to overcome.  Now, in last week's preview, I said that the Steelers had too much to overcome to beat the Giants (facing a really good team, on the road, emotional situation, they'd been under performing on the road), and the Steelers ended up winning.  This situation is different, though, because Kansas City would need to overcome the fact that they're just not very good.  That's too much for any team to overcome in a normal situation, nonetheless playing on the road against a team that's on a roll like the Steelers, who will be pumped up in prime time in front of a home crowd.

But... something like 150 yards and two touchdowns for Charles?  I think that would be just fine.

Steelers 34, Chiefs 17

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