Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7 Keys to the Game for Kansas City
Critics predict that the Steelers will handle the Chiefs with ease. But if the Chiefs want to pull one of the biggest upsets this season, they'll have to do a few things on Monday night. Otherwise, Kansas City will be embarrassed on prime-time television for the second week in a row.
Here are 10 keys for the Chiefs in their matchup against the Steelers.
1. Elect to Receive, Start with the Football
As many know, the Chiefs have yet to take a lead in a game this season. For 488 minutes and 33 seconds, the Chiefs have either tied or trailed and won against the New Orleans Saints after scoring in overtime.
The Chiefs should find a way to start the game with possession of the football.
If they score first, not only will they finally take a lead and gain momentum early on, but it will also be their first time scoring a touchdown on an opening drive in 25 games.
2. Don't Turn the Ball Over
The Chiefs turned the ball over 28 times last season. This year, at around the halfway point, they've been guilty of 29 giveaways.
The Steelers have the best defense in the NFL. However, Pittsburgh has succeeded in gaining just eight takeaways, which ties them for second to last.
This is a golden opportunity for the Chiefs to prevent their turnover woes and focus on trying to move the football against a stout defense.
3. Keep Jamaal Charles Active
People might think that this won't work because the Steelers are seventh against the run, but they are also first against the pass. At that rate, the Chiefs coaching staff has to trust Jamaal Charles more than Matt Cassel.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has limited Charles' activity in the past three games, averaging under 10 carries per game.
Charles may struggle against Dick Lebeau's defense. But it's the Chiefs' best shot, as opposed to going pass-heavy with Cassel.
4. If the Offense Can't Get Touchdowns, Get Three Points If Possible
This may sound like I'm saying the offense should throw in the towel, but I'm not.
Look at Week 3 against the Saints. The Chiefs won by scoring only one touchdown, a safety and six field goals.
If the Chiefs offense manages to move the ball well and come up short of a first down, let kicker Ryan Succop tack on as many points as he can. As boring of a game as it might be, Succop can help the Chiefs on the scoreboard and give them a shot at winning.
After all, the Chiefs only have 12 touchdowns, eight of them coming in garbage time.
5. Defense Must Get Pressure on Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked once, hit four times and hurried plenty of times in last year's battle against the Chiefs. Roethlisberger finished that game 21-of-31 passing for 193 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Chiefs have two of the best outside linebackers in the league in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Houston has been the team's leader on defense with six sacks.
If the Chiefs can apply pressure on Roethlisberger, this could turn into a low-scoring game, similar to last year's contest between the two teams.
6. The Defensive Backs Need to Play Together
Eric Berry has not been himself this season. He's provided little safety help, as receivers and tight ends have managed to get through the Chiefs defense for big plays.
Berry was victimized early on last week by Antonio Gates, allowing the Chargers to draw first blood, and they never looked back.
Romeo Crennel, even though he's no longer the defensive coordinator, and Gary Gibbs, the new defensive coordinator, must coach the defense up and make sure the safeties and cornerbacks are on the same page.
7. Create Turnovers on Defense and Get Yards
The Chiefs defense only has six interceptions on the season, but it might need to carry the offense in this game if Kansas City wants any chance at an upset.
If the defense finds a way to get a turnover, it must also try to move quickly and give the offense good field position. Or better yet, score a defensive touchdown.
It shouldn't have to be that way, but the Chiefs offense has been bad to the point where the defense may be relied on to score.