Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Pick – Kansas City (-750)
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be trying to pull off a major upset on Sunday night when they travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card playoffs. Pittsburgh has its work cut out for it as the biggest underdog of any of the six games being played in the NFL from Saturday to Monday to get the postseason started.
Besides being important as a playoff contest, this game takes on extra-added meaning as perhaps the last game of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s storied career. The kickoff takes place on Sunday night at 8:15 PM Eastern Time from GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Game Preview
The Chiefs and the Steelers have been meeting ever since Kansas City joined the NFL from the AFL in 1970, with Pittsburgh owning a 23-13-1 in the series. They’ve met in the postseason twice before, and they were both close ones: The Chiefs defeated the Steelers 27-24 in a 1994 Wild Card Game, and Pittsburgh knocked off KC in the AFC Divisional round 18-16 in 2017. Kansas City won the previous matchup between the two teams this season in a 36-10 romp the night after Christmas.
To say it’s a miracle that Pittsburgh found its way into the postseason might actually be an understatement. Left for dead after the Chiefs drubbed them on December 26, they gutted out two tight victories in the final two games, including an overtime win over Baltimore in the season finale. They then had to sweat out a near-tie between the Chargers and Raiders that would have knocked them out, instead securing their second straight playoff appearance.
The Chiefs, who are the two-time defending AFC champions, didn’t have quite as much drama as they made the playoffs for the seventh straight year and made it six straight AFC West titles. But they did have to overcome a 3-4 start. They did that by reeling off seven straight wins, although a loss to Cincinnati in Week 17 cost them top seed and forced them into playing in the first round.
Opening Odds and Line Movement for Game
Considering how much of a blowout it was the first time these two teams met just a few weeks ago, it was not surprising to see the Chiefs installed as a 13 1/2 point favorite. But perhaps it was a bit of a surprise to see that line drop to 12 1/2. That could be the result of the injury concerns surrounding Chiefs star receiver Tyreek Hill.
The over/under has been on a downward trend since it opened up at 48. Again, the status of Hill could be driving the betting here, as the Chiefs offense might not be as potent without him. Recent betting has dropped this line down to 46 1/2.
Head to Head Betting Trends
Kansas City defeated the Steelers 36-10 at home on December 26, covering the spread as a ten-point favorite in a game that went over the projected points total of 44 1/2
The team that has won the game outright has covered the spread the last seven times the Steelers have played the Chiefs
The underdog has covered the spread in three of the last four games between Pittsburgh and Kansas City
Before the Chiefs blowout win this season, the last three games in the series had been decided by a combined 13 points
The over has been the right bet in the last two games in this series, but that followed up a stretch where the under had come in for six of the last seven Steelers-Chiefs contests
Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Trends
The Steelers struggled to win on the road in the 2021-22 regular season, going just 3-5 when not in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh won outright and covered the spread in four of the last six games they played this season
The over was the correct bet in four of the last six games played by Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is two games above .500 against the spread in the 34 playoff games that they’ve played since 1993
The Steelers did well against AFC opponents, covering the spread in eight of their 12 games within the conference this season
The Steelers have covered the spread in 65 percent of the games they’ve played as an underdog over the past three seasons
They are one game over .500 against the spread in road games since the start of the 2019 season
Pittsburgh has covered the spread at a rate of 60 percent against teams with winning records over the past three seasons of play
Kansas City Chiefs Betting Trends
Although the Chiefs won seven of nine games at home, they covered the spread in only four of those nine contests
The over was the right bet in the last five games played by the Chiefs this season
Kansas City failed to cover the spread in their last two games this season, which came after a stretch of six covers in a row
In the past two postseasons, Kansas City has won five out of six games and covered the spread in four out of six
Since 1993, however, the Chiefs spread record in the playoffs is much poorer, as they’ve covered the spread at a rate of just 30 percent in their 23 postseason games in that stretch
Kansas City is one game above .500 against the spread at home over the past three seasons of play
The Chiefs are three games above .500 against the spread when playing as a favorite since the start of the 2019 season
Kansas City covered the spread in just one of its four games against the AFC North this season, but that one cover was the game that they played Pittsburgh
Free Bet and Game Prediction:
How much can the Steelers possibly turn things around after the Chiefs handled them with no sweat three weeks ago? Well, the one thing that they can do is try to get off to a better start, which is something that has been a bugaboo for them much of the year. It was 23-0 at halftime of that game, and there is no way, considering how their offense is currently configured, that the Steelers can come back from that kind of deficit.
Pittsburgh also has to cut out the turnovers and force a few of their own. They lost the turnover battle 3-0 in that 26-point loss, and to win on Sunday night, they might need to completely invert that. That’s easier said than done against Patrick Mahomes, who has been much more conscious of protecting the ball after a rough start to the season.
Kansas City is probably the more banged up of the two teams, with the key guy to watch being Tyreek Hill. Hill barely played in the season finale against Denver after suffering a pregame heel injury. While he is expected to play, if he is slowed in any way, Pittsburgh can afford to be a bit more aggressive with their defensive schemes, which might be enough to shake Mahomes from his comfort zone a little bit.
The health of everyone around Patrick Mahomes is of great concern in KC. Tyreek Hill (heel) was held out mostly as precaution Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something to keep an eye on heading into Sunday night vs the #steelers.My report on NFL NOW on @nflnetworkpic.twitter.com/FE6L99kZUA
Pittsburgh needs to get Kansas City behind the sticks in terms of down and distance. Although they sacked Pittsburgh twice in the first meeting, they were for losses of only four yards combined. T.J. Watt, who just tied the all-time single-season sack record, left that game early with injury, but he’s been red hot since and could provide a boost to the Steelers’ efforts to slow Mahomes.
But if you’re looking at it from a glass half-empty perspective for Pittsburgh, the Chiefs moved the ball with little input from their top two weapons in that last game. Travis Kelce sat that game out on the COVID list, while Hill caught just two passes. Instead, it was Byron Pringle who did some damage with 75 yards on six catches and two touchdowns, showing off the depth that KC has in their receivers room.
Interestingly enough, the best way to gouge the Pittsburgh defense is on the ground, where they allowed a league-worst five yards per carry. Kansas City is not the team to pound away though, especially with both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams banged up. Mahomes will go strength against strength, and he’ll more than likely find ways to get it done.
Kansas City’s defense didn’t play nearly as well the last two games as they did when they ripped off seven wins in a row. Cincinnati shredded them through the air, and Denver pummeled them with the run. But Pittsburgh’s offense doesn’t have the kind of weaponry at this point to exploit the Chiefs on the air or on the ground, at least not consistently throughout the entire contest.
For them to stick around, they’ll have to play ball control as much as they can, although that won’t be easy behind their subpar offensive line. Najee Harris hasn’t been an efficient runner this season (3.9 per carry), but he did manage 93 yards on 19 totes in the first KC game. Don’t be surprised if he gets up to 25 touches here, even despite the fact that he’s coming off an arm injury that forced him out of the Baltimore game.
The less the Steelers ask Roethlisberger to do, the better, as his immobility is a major problem against a peppy pass rush like the one that Kansas City possesses. Expect the Steelers’ defense to be better prepared for this game and for the offense to play it as close to the vest as possible in an effort to stay in the game until late. That should keep it closer than it was the first time around, but it won’t keep the Chiefs from advancing, as Big Ben seals the envelope on his playing career.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Betting Recap:
Moneylines: Pittsburgh +550, Kansas City -750
Spread: Pittsburgh +12.5 (-110), Kansas City -12.5 (-110)
Over/Under: 46.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 15
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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