When someone asked me recently what the Chiefs had to do to win this Sunday against the Steelers, I guess he thought I was being a smart aleck when I replied, "They'll win if they don't repeat week 4." "No, I want some real analysis," he replied and then he walked off in a huff. Ultimately, however, that's exactly what they need to do.
For those of you who forgot what happened, KC lost 43-14 and it could have been worse. Ben Roethlisberger was almost perfect, completing 22 of 27 passes for 300 yards and five touchdowns for a QB rating of 152.5. Le'Veon Bell ran for 144 yards on 18 carries. Antonio Brown was "held" to 64 yards on four receptions, but two of those were for TDs. Two of the first three TDs Pittsburgh scored came after KC turnovers. It was 36-0 before KC managed to score. An ugly, ugly, ugly example of what happens when a team fails to execute and loses composure.
But something interesting happened after that loss; KC went on a five-game winning streak. In 2015, the win against the Steelers was the start of an 11-game win streak. Even though the Steelers have traditionally given the Chiefs fits (they hold a 21-10 lifetime lead in the regular season), the Chiefs seem to learn something positive from playing them. It's time to put that education to work.
KC is playing extremely well right now and they have put together one of the best seasons in Chiefs history despite a rash of injuries and playing one of the most difficult schedules in the league. Pittsburgh is also playing well, but has not had to deal with all the injuries and the brutal schedule. The Steelers have the "terrible towel" but the few Steelers fans who will be in attendance on Sunday will be swallowed up in a sea of red worn by the loudest fans in the NFL. Arrowhead is an intimidating place to play and the Chiefs players draw energy from the crowd. The Chiefs are a team that has shown resilience and the ability to replace injured players with little drop-off in ability. John Dorsey and Andy Reid have built a team with impressive depth.
Still, Pittsburgh isn't a patsy. No team with Bell, Brown, and Roethlisberger can be taken lightly. They have a good coaching staff. Their defense is good, but it isn't in the same league as Denver's and other teams the Chiefs have already beaten this season. The secondary can be beaten. Roethlisberger does throw interceptions and Bell had serious knee injuries in 2014 and 2015. Bottom line: Pittsburgh is beatable, but KC cannot afford to repeat its performance in Week 4.
All the Chiefs have to do is play like they're capable of playing. Don't turn the ball over, contain Bell and Roethlisberger, keep Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt out of Alex Smith's face, and find ways to get Travis Kelcie and Tyreek Hill open. If they can do that, KC will win.