Kansas City, KS —
The Steelers will be in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium tonight to face the Chiefs who have struggled this season in the AFC West. After picking up Kyle Orton this week from the Denver Broncos, many suspected that they’d see him on the field as KC’s quarterback, but according to the Chief’s official website, Tyler Palko will get the start. The Steelers need to shake off one of the loudest crowds in the NFL and secure the win.
The Steelers are coming off a bye week, but they understand what is at stake with only six games left in the regular season. Brett Keisel said, “We have to take it one game at a time and win each game if we want to be in the postseason.” Moving into December, the Steelers all understand the importance of playing well. Heath Miller said, “We have no choice but to win all of our games…at this point you think about winning each game at a time.”
This isn’t an urgency, must-win situation this week, but in 2009, the Steelers found that the Chiefs can be a formidable foe; losing a game they should and could have won.
Keys to the win
1. Playing hard for 60 minutes
Sure, they had a bye-week, but the Steelers can’t afford to walk onto the field looking like they’re still full of Thanksgiving dinner. Under head coach Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh has traditionally done well after the bye week, going 3-1; winning three times consecutively. Each of these games they’ve won by an average of 21.3 points. At times this season, the Steelers have looked flat. This week they will need intensity and players who will step up and shut down not only the Chiefs, but the crowd. Count on the fact that Steelers fans travel extremely well to help the team when they walk into Arrowhead and see a sea of black and gold. Hines Ward called this game, ” a playoff-like atmosphere game.” Ryan Clark told NBC that the Steelers organization is “built on defense” and that he plans on “terrorizing people” by using tough defense.
2. Use the re-vamped offense to score – first and often
Max Starks’ return to the offensive line has helped keep Ben Roethlisberger on his feet more often, yet there were still five sacks on Roethlisberger in their last game. Kansas City may only have 12 sacks this season, but Tamba Hali leads the team with seven. Removing Chris Kemoeatu and replacing him at guard with Doug Legursky may be just the key to keeping Ben upright. Legursky is quick enough to pull and block at the same time. The Steelers have an advantage if Roethlisberger can get a safe pocket because the receivers, especially the young Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, are ready for a big breakout game. Emmanuel Sanders is also expected to return tonight. With so many targets, the run and play-action could keep KC off their best defensive game.
3. Get a ground game grinding
Rashard Mendenhall and Issac Redman have been Pittsburgh’s main carriers this season, but the rushing game has been nearly overlooked as of late in favor of a wide-open passing game due to opposing defenses playing the run so well. Regardless of Roethlisberger’s fractured thumb, he’s not going to give up on the pass, but he can take advantage of the Chiefs on the ground this week; Kansas City is a mere 28th in the NFL in rushing defense. They’ve allowed nearly 137 yards per game. Mixing the rushing corps with Redman, Mendenhall and even Moore may prove a highly effective way to not only gain yardage, but a way to keep the KC defense on the field longer.
4. Stay at home on defense
Kansas City has a great offensive line. Saying that, Casey Hampton is a big man upfront for the Steelers defensive line. Dick LeBeau will look for different blitz packages in order to shake up Palko, but the Steelers defense has to play their positions and not get bit on fakes or blow coverages. LaMarr Woodley will not play tonight, but the Steelers have plenty of players to make plays. While Woodley has been out, James Harrison has had some great games. While Steelers fans would love to see them both on the field, LeBeau has put together a defense that has kept them in games. Tonight the defense needs to be solid, intense and fearless.
What the Chiefs are saying about tonight’s game
Steelers 31 – Chiefs 14
Predict the correct score to this game (in the comment field) and win a limited-edition signed lithograph of Steelers great and Hall of Fame player Franco Harris. You must give the score for both teams and answer the tie-breaker question to win. The tie-breaker question is: How many passing touchdowns will Ben Roethlisberger have against the Chiefs??
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