Tyler Palko won't be involved in this one. There really isn't much to this game at all. The Pittsburgh Steelers are beginning to hit their stride and are riding a three game win streak. The Chiefs are just all different kinds of awful. This game should be over by halftime for all intents and purposes. The problem is that the Steelers never do things that way. What should happen and what will happen are often two totally different things with this team. Especially when it comes to playing teams that aren't any good.
Steelers Offense vs. Chiefs Defense: There is really no escaping the one and only story line in this game. It's going to get brought to the forefront ad nauseum throughout the entire broadcast on Monday night. Of course that is Todd Haley returning to Kansas City where he was fired as the head coach last year. Essentially it's the media making a story where there isn't one. If Romeo Crennel came in and won and made Haley look like an idiot, we could talk about it. But the Chiefs are just awful. No coach is changing that. Let's move on.
The run game of the black and gold which has been given a life that it hasn't had for years is getting another boost this week. The backfield is the healthiest it's been since the streak of 100 yard games started with only Rashard Mendenhall being out of the lineup. Jonathan Dwyer will be active after missing last week but Isaac Redman will be getting the start after his career day against the Giants. The run game will be getting another assist. Dwyer and Redman are both largely between the tackle runners which means to stop them, the middle of the defense has to be strong. Well Glenn Dorsey will be missing this game with an injury. That will also effect the Chiefs' hopes for a pass rush. Dorsey is largely responsible for eating up the blockers to free Tamba Hali on the outside. That will now be the responsibility of Shaun Smith.
Despite giving up an average of 30 points per game, the Chiefs' defense isn't nearly as bad as you would think it is. Statistically, they fall in the middle of the pack in almost every category. The points that they give up is largely a byproduct of their pathetic offense. They are forced to spend a lot of time on the field and they are often defending a short field. The Steeler offense could have problems moving the ball if the Chief offense is effective enough to not put their defense in vulnerable positions. But that is a huge if.
Steelers Defense vs. Chiefs Offense: Have I mentioned yet how awful the Chiefs offense is? Well, it's worth pounding the fact. This offense has more than double the amount of turnovers than it has touchdowns. Matt Cassel alone almost has triple the amount of turnovers than touchdowns. That's not an exaggeration. He has turned the ball over 18 times to just seven touchdowns.
The bad thing is that if they didn't turn the ball over so much, they would actually be really effective. They are the third best team in the league running the football. Jamaal Charles has shown no ill effects from his season ending injury last season. Dexter McCluster is a matchup nightmare and he can be lined up all over the field as a running back, slot receiver, and Wildcat quarterback. Peyton Hillis provides them with an effective short yardage back. But unfortunately, they can't run the ball on every down. They need to throw so defenses won't constantly stack nine in the box and often when they throw the ball, it ends with the other team possessing it.
The biggest thing to keep an eye on from a defensive standpoint is Cassel's propensity for putting the ball on the ground. He has lost seven fumbles already this year and it's not going to be any easier in this game. Branden Albert is having a solid year at left tackle this season but he'll be taking on one of his biggest challenges to this point in James Harrison. If that isn't bad enough, Albert has been fighting a back injury that has limited him in practice all week. If his mobility is hindered during the game, Harrison is going to have a field day using his ability to create leverage. If Cassel gets rid of the ball quickly, he throws a lot of interceptions. If he holds onto it, he takes a lot of hits that often end in fumbles. Anything less than a multiple turnover output from the defense will be a disappointment.
Prediction: All indications seem to point to a Steelers blowout, correct? Well if you have been watching this team as long as I have, you know that somehow, someway, that won't happen. The Steelers have a sickness when it comes to playing down to their competition. The only awful team that they ever blow out is the Browns. And so far this year, the only game they won comfortably is the Redskins game and they've already lost two games to inferior opponents. That being said, neither of those teams were quite as bad as the Chiefs. The Steelers are going to win their fourth straight game. It's just going to be a lot closer than people expect. Steelers 16, Chiefs 7