The Kansas City Chiefs started the season with a big road win against the Los Angeles Chargers, and now prepare for a week 2 battle against the 0-0-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are still missing all-pro RB Le’Veon Bell, who’s holding out in a contract dispute about being franchise tagged; and Ben Roethlisberger is not 100%. The Steelers defense is not what it used to be, and the Chiefs have the most talented group of offensive talent in the NFL, with no hyperbole. This is legitimately an opportunity for Kansas City to get off to a 2-0 start, with 2 road wins, in conference, against teams that were almost unanimous playoff picks before the season started among NFL experts. That, Chiefs fans, is a reason to be very excited about this game on Sunday.
What isn’t so exciting though, is that the Chiefs are still without Eric Berry, up and coming linebacker Ben Neimann appears to be shelved with an injury, and the defense was scarily porous against the Chargers a week ago. Make no mistake, the Chiefs defense gave up no fewer than 7 touchdown passes to Philip Rivers last Sunday, but only 3 of those passes were caught. The other four were dropped by wide open receivers. You know who doesn’t drop passes Chiefs Kingdom? Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuester, etc. Kansas City has a very tall order in containing the Steelers offense even without Bell in the mix! James Conner looked like a more than adequate replacement for Bell a week ago, and Ben Roethlisberger has been the best QB in the league in his home stadium over the last few seasons, and his fantasy stats back that up. There’s also history working against the Chiefs as they have never won a game at Heinz field, and haven’t beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh since 1986.
So, that begs then the question then, how do the Chiefs go on the road and pull this one out against the Steelers? Here are 4 things that have to happen
- Establish the Run Game! – For all the good press the Chiefs offense received after week one, they never got Travis Kelce involved and they never even attempted to establish the run game. Kareem Hunt lead the NFL in rushing as a rookie, and the Chiefs need to feed him the rock this week. The Chiefs defense is, if we’re being totally honest, not very good. How do you slow down Pittsburgh’s offense? You keep it off the field by having long, time consuming drives of your own. That happens by running the football, a steady dose of Kareem Hunt with Spencer Ware and Damien Williams sprinkled in for changes of pace would go a long way to putting Kansas City in position to win.
- Don’t Turn It Over! – One of the things that the Chiefs as an organization accepted when choosing to move on from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes, was that Mahomes was going to turn the ball over more than Smith did. He didn’t turn it over in week 1, but came close on a couple of occasions. This week has to be the same, no easy points can be given up. Force the Steelers to legitimately earn every offensive possession they get, and don’t hand them short fields. Again, the Chiefs defense is lacking, extra possessions for an explosive offense like Pittsburgh would immediately spell doom for Kansas City.
- Pressure Big Ben – Ben Roethlisberger is one of the hardest QBs in the league to sack. However, getting him off of his spot and making him uncomfortable is something the Chiefs have to do. Justin Houston and Dee Ford need to lead that charge to get to Roethlisberger and get him to the ground. The Chiefs have the potential to be good at rushing the passer, but certainly haven’t shown that yet in a game capacity. If Ben has all day to throw, he will find Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuester running open for big plays. Ford and Houston have to be in his face constantly to keep him off balance and prevent the Steelers from getting into a rythm.
- Travis Kelce makes his presence felt – Travis Kelce never got going last week against the Chargers. Kelce had 2 targets, 1 drop, and 1 catch for 6 yards in that game. That can’t happen this week. Kelce is a playmaker and one of the best at his position in the National Football League and he needs to play like it. If Kelce can make an impact on this one, and Mahomes continues his connection with Hill, and going back to the top for a second, Kareem Hunt rushes for around 100 yards. The Chiefs will come home next week 2-0 to face the 49ers.
All of that is much easier said than done of course, but that’s the formula which the Chiefs have to execute in order to win on Sunday. As always, pregame starts at 11 AM from the Chiefs Radio Network on Topeka’s Rock Leader V100. Kickoff is at high noon, and we’re hoping for a Chiefs victory! Follow us on twitter @V100rocks and follow me directly on twitter @m_c_luckie for live tweets and updates throughout the game on Sunday. Get that dub!