Pittsburgh Steelers: Look Out Kansas City…Here We Come!


As the Pittsburgh Steelers head into Kansas City, Missouri this weekend and Pittsburgh’s “Omar Epps” look-alike meets the “Walrus,” they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves at the moment.

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The Black and Gold have a record of 4-2, losing only to the high-flying New England Patriots on opening night in the NFL and a game against Baltimore that could have easily gone the other way. They’ve achieved the four victories, some without the services of their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and at times without Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, and along the way losing others to injury.

Gone for the season are Kelvin Beachum, Shaun Suisham, and Maurkice Pouncey has still not been officially ruled out until 2016 so he could return. Joining this group that will not be on the field in 2015 are Rob Blanchflower, Clifton Geathers, rookie Senquez Golson, Bruce Gradkowski, Kevin Palmer, another rookie in Eli Rogers, Mitchell Van Dyk, and oft-injured Jordan Zumwalt with a few other non-impact players not mentioned.

Despite the long injury list, here is Pittsburgh just two games behind unbeaten Cincinnati. The Kansas City Chiefs are struggling and have lost their star running back Jamaal Charles for the season which will help Pittsburgh focus on putting additional pressure on Alex Smith. Lining up behind Cody Wallace at center on Sunday SHOULD be Landry Jones but this week in practice, incredibly, Ben Roethlisberger took part. Everyone knows about how tough Big Ben is, perhaps the most physically imposing QB in the NFL with an uncanny ability to recover from injury.

The fact that Michael Vick who did not practice because of his sore hamstring is still in the conversation as a possible starter if Roethlsiberger isn’t ready, is downright ridiculous. Landry Jones earned the backup role and needs to remain there until the heir apparent returns. If the Steelers keep playing with the momentum they picked up last weekend and execute how they have been as of late, this game should go just how Mike Tomlin is planning it out.

When the Steelers have the ball: For several weeks, the prediction for the offense has been a heavy dose of Le’Veon Bell. With Landry Jones at quarterback that all changes now. With three years holding the clipboard, Jones showed the Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the world, he has been an excellent student of the game and of Pittsburgh’s playbook. Assuming he is starting on Sunday, he will be throwing the ball downfield more than just a few times. A combination of passing and running will do well for the Steelers in Kansas City and with what he has to work with, Landry Jones should be able to match or do better than his performance from a week ago.

Le’Veon Bell is getting his groove on and so we should see much more production the rest of the way this season. If Jones can’t find Antonio Brown often, believe you me, once Big Ben returns, he is going to light it up on the gridiron. Martavis Bryant seems like he didn’t miss a beat from last season and having missed the first five games, so Pittsburgh lethal combination of Brown/Bryant/Wheaton/Bell/Miller and now Darrius Heyward-Bey is fully intact.

Neither Pittsburgh or Kansas City’s defense is ranking well this year with the Chiefs at 22 overall and the Steelers 23. Against the run, Kansas City sits at #11 yielding just under 100 yards-per-game. On passing downs, they are better coming in at the eighth position in the league. A key stat is that the Chiefs won their opening game but have lost the last five. Of those five defeats, all were close with the exception of getting whacked by Green Bay 38-28 and by the Bengals 36-21.

But a loss to Chicago by just one and to the Vikings by six, as well as a division loss to Denver by a single touchdown must sting this Kansas City defense. They will have their hands full on Sunday trying to contain the multiple weapons of the Steelers. Their best bet will be to try to rattle Landry Jones and if they don’t they will pay dearly.

When the Chiefs have the ball: Here is what is very troubling for Andy Reid, the Chiefs’ offense, and Kansas City fans…without Jamaal Charles on the field, how are they going to establish a running game? When Charles went on injured reserve, he was leading the team in rushing with 364 yards and a healthy 5.1 yards-per-carry mark.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

The second leading rusher for Kansas City is their starting quarterback and that can never be good. Alex Smith has run 28 times for 119 yards. After him, it’s Charecandrick West with just 21 carries and 81 yards. Knile Davis is another option, but he is averaging just 2.5 yards per in 16 carries.

West is in his second season and Davis in his third. In the passing game, Alex Smith is not exactly having a banner season with a rating of just 88.8 and worse, having been sacked 23 times. With only six touchdown passes, Smith will be looking for one of two receivers without the services of Jamaal Charles out of the backfield as a receiver. Those two men are Jeremy Maclin or Travis Kelce. Kansas City will have to find holes in Pittsburgh’s defense to do any damages come Sunday.

For the Steelers’s defense it should be a heavy, double dose of blitzing ALL day. Knowing how Alex Smith is susceptible to the sack attack, Keith Butler will have his boys attacking the backfield all game. This has the potential to be one of Pittsburgh’s best defensive performances of the season.

Intangibles: This is a huge opportunity for Pittsburgh to take advantage of an offense that is not playing well or producing much. It’s another opportunity for Landry Jones to show last week was no fluke. Antonio Brown is starving for the ball and Le’Veon Bell simply wants to create havoc week in and week out. The Steelers’ offense wants to show the world that yes with Big Ben behind center their offense is deadly but that it is not just about Ben Roethlisberger.

Prediction: These are the kind of games you just can’t choke on. On paper, with our without Big Ben, the Steelers win this game every time. But the game is played on the field. On the field is where the Steelers will win this one easy. Steelers 30 Chiefs 13.

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