On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers in what is shaping up to be an intriguing NFL Wild-Card matchup on the AFC side of the bracket. These two teams faced each other just a few weeks ago, with the Chiefs coming away with a big win. This time around, the stakes are even higher. How will the first round of the playoffs unfold for Kansas City and Pittsburgh? The Arrowhead Report crew makes their predictions.
Joshua Brisco: As double-digit favorites, the Chiefs absolutely must handle their business in this game and should play with the goal of burying the Steelers in the first half so Ben Roethlisberger doesn't have a chance to be within striking distance for another fourth-quarter comeback. That said, the Steelers' defense is full of playmakers and Big Ben's offense has enough weapons to leave this game in "it could get weird" territory. The Chiefs are the better team and should keep Pittsburgh at a distance, but prepare for the possibility of a messy game that could end up with a final score that makes it look closer than it should have been.
Prediction: Chiefs 27, Steelers 17
Jordan Foote: A 12.5-point spread is a ton to cover in the playoffs and while I'm picking the Chiefs to be able to do so, it's going to be by literally half a point. Kansas City enters this game with quite a bit more help than it had last time around due to the NFL's COVID-19 protocols, so that's a major plus. Pittsburgh getting JuJu Smith-Schuster back into the fold is a bonus, too, but how healthy he is and how quickly he can get back in the swing of things are both serious question marks. At the end of the day, as long as the Chiefs' offense does its job, this game won't be particularly close. The Chiefs win here and will host the Buffalo Bills in next weekend's Divisional Round.
Prediction: Chiefs 30, Steelers 17
Mark Van Sickle: I think this game should play out similarly to when these teams played each other just a few weeks ago. The Steelers are having a tough time scoring points and the Chiefs will continue to get theirs. Hopefully, this won't get into a slugfest like the tune-up game against Denver last week. In the end, Chiefs should win by double-digits and cover the spread.
Prediction: Chiefs 34, Steelers 16
Marlow Ferguson Jr.: The fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are 12.5-point underdogs — the largest in Wild-Card Weekend history — tells a story in itself. Any team fielded by Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin deserves respect, but if the Chiefs lose this game, it’ll largely be because of themselves. If the Chiefs are even average, that should suffice. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t what it once was, dropping from No. 1 to No. 14 in DVOA. But, they specialize in forcing teams to take field goals instead of touchdowns, helping keep games close as a result. The Chiefs would benefit from keeping the Steelers at a distance; Pittsburgh is 8-2-1 in one-score games this year. Dangerous as they are, this was the best-case scenario for the Chiefs, and they’re too talented to not take advantage.
Prediction: Chiefs 33, Steelers 19
Conner Christopherson: It's a failure if the Chiefs lose this game, plain and simple. The first Wild-Card game of Patrick Mahomes's career is a great draw for the Chiefs as Big Ben is on his last ropes as a quarterback. The Bills' drubbing of the Patriots should be mirrored in this game with a weaker opponent, but that remains to be seen. I have a hard time entertaining the thought that the Chiefs will lose this game, but stranger things have happened.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Steelers 20
Taylor Witt: The last time these two teams met, the Chiefs were without Travis Kelce, Nick Bolton, Harrison Butker and Tommy Townsend. Tyreek Hill caught two passes for 19 yards. Oh, and the Chiefs jumped out to a 30-0 lead and ended up winning 36-10. The Steelers are just thankful to still be playing football, while the Chiefs have four games of unfinished business to take care of. The first one starts easy enough.
Prediction: Chiefs 33, Steelers 17