Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE
Todd Haley is certainly licking his chops with the Chiefs coming into Heinz Field.
The main storyline is Todd Haley, who's currently the offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh, but was the head coach of the Chiefs the prior three seasons. Haley was successful, leading the team to a 10-6 record in 2010 and an AFC West title. However, he and general manager Scott Pioli couldn't get along, leading to his firing.
The two teams couldn't be more polar opposites of each other. The Steelers are a beacon of success in the NFL, winners of six Super Bowls and consistently in the playoff picture. Kansas City is what people look at and try to avoid becoming, a rudderless franchise that more often than not is a disappointment.
This year is no different. Many pundits picked both teams to make the playoffs, but only Pittsburgh has a chance to do so. The Steelers are winners of three straight and have a 5-3 mark, while the Chiefs are a pathetic 1-7, losers of five consecutive games.
Meet the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers for years were always known as a tough, run-first team under Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. Well, those days are long gone under Mike Tomlin, who has taken to the air with Ben Roethlisberger and a shaky offensive line.
As usual, the defense is stellar. Pittsburgh ranks first against the pass and seventh versus the run. Overall, the Steelers are the No.1 defense is the league, giving up only 262.6 yards per game.
Roethlisberger is posting another great year for his Hall of Fame candidacy, throwing for 2,203 yards and 16 touchdowns. Many worried a rift between he and Haley would hold the team back, but there's been no such luck for the rest of the league.
With a relatively soft schedule the rest of the way, Pittsburgh might be able to challenge for a bye in the playoffs. The only team that seems assured of one is the Houston Texans, while everyone else is in a logjam.
Meet the Kansas City Chiefs
There has never been a more laughable excuse for a football team than the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs. Since 1929, they are the only team to not hold one lead, for a single second, in any of their first eight games -- their lone win came on a walk-off field goal in overtime. The last team to that was the 1929 Buffalo Bisons, which folded after that dreadful campaign.
The group also is -20 in the turnover department, by far the worst in the league. Despite having talent on offense with Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and a good front, Kansas City hasn't scored a non-garbage time touchdown since Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints.
As stated before, many thought the Chiefs would make the playoffs and even contend for a Super Bowl. However, those people forgot Romeo Crennel was "coaching" the team. Crennel has proved to be an incompetent disaster, admitting at times that he doesn't know why stars like Charles aren't seeing the ball more.
The organization is in turmoil under Pioli, who this week cut corner Stanford Routt after signing him this offseason to a three-year contract. Locally, fans have starting flying banners over Arrowhead Stadium on gamedays demanding a benching of Matt Cassel and the ousting of Pioli.
Good times in Kansas City.
Local Takes: Pittsburgh Steelers
Ivan Cole from Behind The Steel Curtain says the Steelers' coaching staff has done the job:
We have moved from speculation to reality with Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, and the reports of Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau's obsolescence have proven to be premature at best. In the case of Haley both the coach and his players are getting comfortable with the system and what we are seeing is a combination of old and new elements that is both traditional smash mouth Steeler football with an airborne component that may have the greatest quick strike capacity in the entire league.
Local Takes: Kansas City Chiefs
BJ Kissel of Arrowhead Pride says Scott Pioli has made too many errors to keep his job after the season ends:
He should absolutely be held responsible for the hiring of two coaches that have flamed out in embarrassing fashion (on national TV no less). You can't miss on those moves and expect to keep your job as general manager of a NFL team, and he missed on them. The puzzle isn't fitting together and giving him a chance to hire a third head coach in four years just doesn't make sense.
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This game is nothing more than a colossal mismatch. The Steelers are on the way up, gearing for another playoff run with a talented core and an outstanding head coach. Kansas City is simply playing out the string, waiting for the ax to fall on the embarrassing Crennel.
Pittsburgh will have no trouble moving the ball on the Chiefs, who give up 30 points per game. Conversely, the Chiefs can barely score a point against teams like the Chargers and Raiders, so it's highly unlikely Matt Cassel is going to keep Kansas City around for long. Also, don't expect Haley to ease up late in the game when it's a blowout.
Best case scenario for the Chiefs? They win the coin toss, kick a field goal, and finally hold a lead.
The pick: 38-3, Steelers
The Steelers are tabbed as 13-point favorites by oddsshark.com.
Pittsburgh will move on to host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night. Kansas City heads home to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in what could be known as the "blackout game," with a movement for everyone in attendance to wear black to symbolize displeasure with the team.