Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: AFC Wild Card Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 1/16/2022

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Where to watch: NBC

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Chiefs -12.5; O/U 46
BetMGM: Chiefs -12.5; O/U 46.5
Caesars: Chiefs -12.5; O/U 46.5

Season record
Steelers: 9-7-1, No. 7 seed (2nd place, AFC North)
Chiefs: 12-5, No. 2 seed (Clinched AFC West)

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Steelers - Chiefs preview, analysis and prediction

Last week
Steelers: won 16-13 (OT) at Ravens
Chiefs: won 28-24 at Broncos

Had it not been for Brandon Staley’s clock management blunder, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be sitting at home this weekend pondering why this season went as badly as it did.

The Steelers can send a giant fruit basket to the Los Angeles Chargers for getting into the playoffs, but I can’t help but think the last we see of Ben Roethlisberger is trying to pick himself up from the grass at Arrowhead Stadium with a deep-in-space look across his face.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ quest to try and three-peat as AFC champions begins Sunday against the Steelers, as the teams meet for the second time in as many weeks.

The Chiefs dismantled the Steelers back on Dec. 26, winning 36-10 and essentially ending that game by halftime. Kansas City led 23-0 at half and had an efficient 258-yard, 3-touchdown day from Patrick Mahomes.

Roethlisberger, meanwhile, had 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception. That meeting alone is why the Chiefs are 13-point favorites and should run away with this game rather quickly.

The Chiefs ended the regular season with a 28-24 win at the Denver Broncos. Mahomes threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns to finish the year with 4,839 yards and 37 touchdowns. He did throw 13 interceptions, but 10 of them game in the first eight games of the season. He threw 18 touchdowns to only three interceptions in the second half of the season.

“We’re ready to go wherever against whomever,” Mahomes said.

The Chiefs closed the season 9-1 after losing 27-3 to the Tennessee Titans, who are the No. 1 seed in the AFC while the Chiefs finished No. 2. That loss to the Titans was probably the most sound in the Mahomes era, and if the Chiefs want to make a third Super Bowl, the road will have to go through Nashville.

But as far as this game goes, the Steelers need to play a perfect defensive game. This offense should be able to score 25-30 points and keep pace with the Chiefs, but Roethlisberger and co. have only put up 20.2 points per game. With the weapons at Big Ben’s disposal, the Steelers should be much better than this.

It’s the defense that’s going to need to make plays and contain Mahomes. T.J. Watt is coming off a near-record-breaking season with 22.5 sacks, tying Michael Strahan’s single-season mark. Cameron Heyward also had 10 sacks with Chris Wormley. The Steelers can get to the quarterback, but only got to Mahomes twice in that meeting early in the season.

If Pittsburgh wants a chance, they need to amplify the pressure and force Mahomes to beat them with his legs, rolling out of the pocket, etc.

But it’s not going to happen. Mahomes has been the second-half MVP by a longshot and he tends to turn it up during this time of year. Arrowhead, at home, is a horrible scenario for any road team for playoff time. Much like the last meeting, this one should be over by halftime. Steelers by 14 

Betting trends

Steelers are 7-4 ATS as an underdog this season.

Steelers are 3-6 ATS off an under this season.

Chiefs are 13-4 ATS off a division game over the past three seasons.

Chiefs are 13-1 straight up after winning over a division rival the past three seasons.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Ben Roethlisberger --3,740 yards, 22 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Najee Harris -- 1,200 yards, 7 TD
Receiving: Diontae Johnson -- 1,161 yards, 7 TD
Defense: T.J. Watt -- 22.5 sacks

Passing: Patrick Mahomes -- 4,839 yards, 37 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Darrell Williams -- 558 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Tyreek Hill -- 1,239 yards, 9 TD
Defense: Chris Jones

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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