“You didn’t tell me that James Harrison’s neck was THIS BIG!!!” Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
The Steelers are beginning to stack some wins and are poised to push the pedal a bit more to the floor after beating the Giants and hitting the halfway point of the season in second place in the AFC North. The team faces off against the woeful Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night at Heinz Field. The Chiefs have struggled all season long and have yet to lead at any point in regulation this season. This bodes well for the men in Black & Gold, but don’t expect a win to be pretty, even if they do come ready to play.
The injury list is still littered, and as of Wednesday, the Steelers have already commented that Antonio Brown and Chris Rainey are shelved. Those potentially coming back (Marcus Gilbert and Jonathan Dwyer) might not be that effective. And of course, Troy Polamalu is still out (though good news with his is that he will be ready for the Ravens). The Steelers have started to find themselves a bit in a Polamalu’less world – perhaps a glance of the Steelers come 2015? The secondary has stepped up beautifully during Troy’s absence, and Dick Le’Beau seems to have found his defensive swag…. for now.
Even if Brown, Dwyer and Polamalu were cleared to play, I would hope that the coaching staff would keep them benched anyways. I don’t mean to disrespect the Chiefs, but with the way they are playing right now, this is a game that feels like a pre-playoff game where a team looks to rest players. With the Steelers getting ready to face the Ravens after the Chiefs, it seems that the Steelers should try and be as healthy as possible. The conundrum? The Steelers don’t want to lose momentum going into the Ravens game, and they certainly don’t want fall behind anymore in the standings in the AFC North.
Even with a slightly depleted squad who will look to rest players that might be in the ‘Questionable’ column, the Steelers have good odds at taking down the Chiefs. Home field advantage and an opposing team that ranks over 20th in rushing yards (22nd) and points (30th) give the Steelers a chance to have a strong run game and really control the clock. Redman will be back for his second start in a row, and should have an easy time averaging over 4 yards per carry. A Steeler who has yet to be mentioned for its offensive success is Ramon Foster. Foster is sitting strong at right guard as Marcus Gilbert and David DeCastro continue to heal on that right side. Colon has been downright impressive and Foster has been a great compliment on that interior. He’s been able to create holes for the run game and help out rookie Mike Adams whenever he appears to be struggling on that edge.
I don’t know if the Steelers will rack up the 30 points that the Chiefs on average give up per game. Without Brown in the lineup, Cotchery will certainly need to step up as much as he did against the Giants last week. Even with a bit of deficiency in the offense, the Steelers should be able rack up a decent amount of points to get the win. The defense just needs to hold the anemic Chief offense and keep Cassel or Quinn on their back more than in the pocket.
I don’t know if the win will be a pretty one, but it’s not like it needs to be. The litmus for the character and talent of this team occurred last week against the Giants. The Steelers just need to get the win here against the Chiefs, come out with the least amount of bruises possible, and get ready for the huge rival game against the Ravens.