Postseason hopes are at stake in Sunday's must-win game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs need to not only defeat Pittsburgh but must also beat the San Diego Chargers in Week 17 at Arrowhead Stadium to earn a second consecutive postseason berth. The Steelers will win the AFC North with two wins, but can make playoff plans with a win over Kansas City.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is the key player to watch on Sunday. Bell has been phenomenal this season, rushing for 1,278 yards while catching 76 passes for 765 yards and 10 total touchdowns. Bell will be a problem for the Chiefs, who are without star middle linebacker Derrick Johnson due to a torn Achilles tendon. With Johnson sidelined since Week 1, Kansas City allowed 4.9 yards per rush, the worst mark in the NFL.
However, the Chiefs have the second-best pass defense behind the Seattle Seahawks at 199 yards allowed per game, and are the only team not to allow a 300-yard passer. Those stats will be tested by Ben Roethlisberger and his top target Antonio Brown, who has a league-leading 1,498 receiving yards and 18 catches of 20-plus yards. Outside linebacker Justin Houston will be key to curtailing Roethlisberger, and comes into the game with an NFL-best 17 sacks.
When Pittsburgh is on defense, its main task is to contain Jamaal Charles. Despite missing time earlier in the season because of a sprained ankle, Charles has rushed for 950 yards on 5.2 yards per carry, and leads the league with 14 touchdowns. The Steelers have also been porous against the run, allowing 4.4 yards per carry allowed (ranking 27th in the league).
Kansas City has really struggled to move the ball through the air. Alex Smith has 18 touchdown passes, but not a single one to a wide receiver and defenses have been stacking the box to force the Chiefs to pass the ball during recent losses. Smith's best weapon is second-year tight end Travis Kelce, who has hauled in 56 passes for 747 yards and five scores. The Steelers would be wise to go for the turnover when Kelce has the ball due to his four fumbles on the year.
How to Watch
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
When: 1 p.m. ET
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
For more on the Chiefs, head over to Arrowhead Pride.
To keep up with the Steelers, check out Behind The Steel Curtain.