PITTSBURGH – (Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan) – If the Steelers want to advance to their first AFC Championship game since 2010 they must defeat the Kansas City Chiefs on the road this Sunday. But, in order to accomplish that feat, they must have the following things happen for them…
- Play Sound Defense – After getting shredded during the early part of the season, the Steelers defense has turned things around and finished the regular season with the 12th best defense in the NFL, as well as the 10th best scoring defense in the league. Since dropping four in a row between October 16 and November 13, the Steelers have run off eight straight wins. The Steelers defense will be tested on Sunday as the Chiefs enter the game red hot, having won 10 of 12 since they were humbled by the Steelers on October 2nd in a game where Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdowns.
- Ben Must Have A “Home” Game – It’s no secret that in 2016, Ben Roethlisbeger wasn’t great on the road, and the numbers don’t lie. In home games in 2016, Big Ben completed nearly 71% of his passes, threw 21 touchdown (vs 7 INT’s), averaged over 260 passing yards and totaled a 115+ passer rating. On the road, Roethlisberger threw just nine touchdowns (vs 8 INT’s), completed under 60% of his passes, averaged under 240 yards passing and had a passer rating of just 78. If the Steelers want to play next weekend, Ben must exercise his road demons.
- Keep The Ground Game Going – One of the biggest ingredients to a victory could very well hinge on the play of running back Le’Veon Bell. If the Steelers get a typical road game from Roethlisberger (See Point 2) the Steelers would be well versed to lean on their stud. In fact, It was the Chiefs who Bell roasted for 178 total yards while playing his first game back from suspension. Bell has been mostly unstoppable since his return and finished with the Fifth most rushing yards in the NFL and finished second (behind Dallas Running Back Ezekiel Elliot) in average rushing yards per game at 105.7. Bell needs to come close to his week four performance for the Steelers to have a chance.
- Keep The Special Teams “Special” – Many may have brushed it off last week as “no big deal” when kicker Chris Boswell missed his first extra point of the season in last weeks blowout win over the Miami Dolphins. But in the postseason, especially the deeper you go in the postseason, every little mistake is magnified. This weeks game is expected to be a nail biter, and resemble nothing like the week four contest. The Steelers must be sound covering kickoffs and punt returns, they need to make every reasonable field goal and also take advantage of mistakes the Chiefs may make on special teams.
- Defeat Mother Nature – The Steelers are 1-0 so far this season when mother nature rears her ugly head. The team fought off frigid temperatures last week to swim laps around the Miami Dolphins. This week however is a completely different story as a major ice storm is forecast for the Kansas City metro area. With wet and icy conditions, the Steelers must do their best to hold onto the football. Ben Roethlisberger got away with two interceptions last week in the blowout. But turnovers caused by wet or slick footballs should be no excuse on Sunday