Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 12/26/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Where to watch: CBS

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Chiefs -7.5
BetMGM: Chiefs -7.5
Caesars: Chiefs -7

Season record
Steelers: 7-6-1 (3rd place, AFC North)
Chiefs: 10-4 (1st place, AFC West)

Matt Fargo is on a perfect 5-0 run, and best believe that he’ll look to continue that with a big Week 16. Catch Matt’s plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.

Steelers - Chiefs preview and analysis


Last week
Steelers: won 19-13 vs. Titans
Chiefs: won 34-28 at Chargers (Thursday Night Football)

The Kansas City Chiefs have fought valiantly to win seven straight games and put themselves within reach of the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

We’re about to find out just how good the Chiefs are in Sunday’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it has nothing to do with the opponent on the field.

The Chiefs could possibly not have Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce due to health and safety protocol, giving quarterback Patrick Mahomes an offense without two of his top pass catchers. More importantly, 11 players have entered the reserve/COVID-19 list from the Chiefs over the past week.

On the field, Mahomes is essentially on an island. He’s coming off his best game of the season in that epic 34-28 overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night, where Mahomes threw for a season-high 410 yards and three touchdowns; two of them went to Kelce on a night where the star tight end caught 10 receptions for a career-high 191 yards, including the walk-off touchdown.

"I don't think I've ever been part of a walk-off touchdown or anything like that, so to be in that moment, find him underneath and him making such a dynamic play where, I mean, he cut back, ran by people," said Mahomes. "You think he's old. He can't run by people. But he's still running by people. And he got in the end zone."

It was also a dominant game from Hill, catching a team-high 12 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. You take both of those away, and Mahomes can still fire the ball to whomever he wants to, but the dynamic offense goes away greatly.

The good news for the Chiefs is their defense has come alive at the right time. The 28 points given up last Thursday were the most the Kansas City defense allowed during its winning streak. They were holding opponents to less than 20 points in every game prior. It’s a unit that was much maligned through the first seven games, but has since rallied to allow only 21.1 points this season.

The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West with a win and a Chargers loss to the Houston Texans.

If this game comes down to defense, it favors the home team, but don’t underestimate the Pittsburgh defense. Especially with T.J. Watt and his NFL-leading 17.5 sacks.

The Steelers are coming off a 19-13 win against the Tennessee Titans that kept their postseason hopes alive. The Steelers are ninth in the AFC standings and are a game behind the Baltimore Ravens and first-place Cincinnati Bengals. They’re likely sending a gift basket to the Las Vegas Raiders for getting that win over the Cleveland Browns.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 148 yards and had a rushing touchdown; the offense as a whole had 168 total.

"When you've got teams like this and environments like this, every game is a playoff," Roethlisberger said. "It had the feel of a playoff game, physically, emotionally."

The Steelers are hanging by a thread and need some luck to bounce their way for a chance. But that offense needs to revert back to the past few weeks against a Chiefs defense that has been getting to the quarterback with ease. Despite no sacks last week, Kansas City has 16 sacks during this winning streak.

Prediction


I don’t know what it is, but the Chiefs have been dominant in December, winning 12 straight games in the month that separates the contenders from the rest. Even with no Kelce or Hill, the Chiefs’ offense can find ways to move the ball. If Pittsburgh can only get 168 total yards against an average Titans defense, try facing a much better unit. Chiefs by 8

Betting trends


The Steelers are 9-16 ATS in their last 25 off an under.

The Chiefs are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 off a win against a division opponent.

The Chiefs are 10-2 ATS after two straight wins as a favorite.

Players to watch


Steelers: Wide receiver Diontae Johnson has at least five receptions in nine straight games, the third-longest active streak in the league this season.

Chiefs: Linebacker Nick Bolton had a team-high 14 tackles and three pass deflections against the Chargers.

Statistical leaders


Steelers:
Passing: Ben Roethlisberger – 3,214 yards, 19 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Najee Harris – 891 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Diontae Johnson – 1,028 yards, 6 TD
Defense: T.J. Watt – 17.5 sacks

Chiefs:
Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 4,052 yards, 30 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 490 yards, 3 TD
Receiving: Tyreek Hill – 1,178 yards, 9 TD
Defense: Chris Jones – 7 sacks

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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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