The Steelers travel to Kansas City with the goal of heading to the AFC Championship in mind.
How does Pittsburgh overcome going on the road to face a team much tougher than the one they blew out 43-14 back in Week 4? Basically the team will have to play their best, mistake-free football if they want to leave Kansas City with the W.
Here are the keys to victory against the Chiefs:
Protect the ball
The Kansas City defense is one of the most opportunistic defense in the NFL, leading the league in interceptions while they’re not giving up the ball on offense. The two interceptions Ben Roethlisberger threw against the Dolphins last week turned out to be inconsequential but the team won’t have that luxury this time around.
Roethlisberger has to be on point with his receivers and they have to be on point with their routes. The wrong guy in the wrong place is just what a guy like Eric Berry or Marcus Peters needs to capitalize on.
Protecting the ball while running the ball will be very important for Le’Veon Bell.
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The Steelers have been better on the whole at limiting the penalties but the pre-snap penalties will kill a drive every single time. Penalties can be the difference between a drive ending in a touchdown or a field goal and this isn’t the kind of game you leave points out on the field and still win.
The penalties that can’t be helped, obviously, are the ones called in game and those are usually at the whim of the officiating crew. The officiating crew for Sunday night’s game in Kansas City will be headed up by Carl Cheffers.
I’ve long been a fan of Antonio Brown’s endzone twerking and I will be praying that come Monday morning that’s all we’re talking about when it comes to the officiating crew. If there’s nothing more controversial than some pelvic thrusts, then it was a good game.
Be more special on special teams
The biggest difference on the field on Sunday night than in Pittsburgh in early October won’t be the amount of ice, it will be the role of rookie kickoff returner/punt returner/wide receiver/running back/overall offensive and special teams menace for opposing teams, Tyreek Hill.
Back in the 43-14 loss to Pittsburgh in October played only 18 snaps on offense. He had a 78-yard punt return touchdown nullified by a penalty in that game.
The Pittsburgh’s special teams unit has been pretty ‘unspecial’ to borrow a Mike Tomlin phrase. They haven’t given up a ton of return touchdowns but they can’t return the ball farther than like 3 yards and they’ve allowed returns, gotten kicks blocked and just generally been underwhelming based on their offensive counterparts.
This is the week for Danny Smith’s unit to shine. They can’t give up unnecessary penalties or yards and give up field position.
So it’s not pretty or flashy but what is going to get this game won won’t necessarily be 62-yard touchdowns by Antonio Brown or phenomenal running plays by Le’Veon Bell. Don’t get me wrong, those will happen and they will be glorious.
But if the team can take care of the ball, make no mistakes and don’t give up the field on special teams and we’ll be watching another AB, Bell and Ben Roethlisberger highlight reel.
What do you think, Steeler Nation?
Here we go Steelers! Here we go!