Heading into the season, Week 10's Monday night game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers actually had some promise as a solid defensive battle.
Of course, we know that's not the case, as the Chiefs (1-7) have been about as inept a team as we've seen all season, while the Steelers (5-3) continue to prove that those who wrote them off early were mistaken to do so.
But no matter how lopsided a matchup might look, there's a reason that the games are played—because anything can happen—and we've seen upsets before.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what both teams need to do in order to find success on Monday night.
Key For the Chiefs: Establish the Running Game (and Don't Stop Running)
It doesn't matter who starts under center for the Chiefs—Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn—because neither one is going to be able to throw the ball effectively against the Steelers defense, one that ranks first against the pass.
While the Chiefs defense ranks a respectable 11th against the pass, going head-to-head with Ben Roethlisberger and company isn't something that they want to do.
The best defense against a good offense is to keep the offense on the sidelines, and that comes with being able to control the clock.
Jamaal Charles is the Chiefs' most explosive offensive weapon (with all due respect to WR Dwayne Bowe), and running the ball is something that the Chiefs happen to do quite well.
Kansas City needs a heavy dose of Charles on Monday night, and if he's able to move the chains, slow things down and convert a third down or two, the Chiefs can stay with the Steelers in this one.
Key For the Steelers: Protect Ben Roethlisberger
It's not something that the Steelers offensive line typically does well, but with only two pass rushers to really worry about—linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, who have combined for 11 sacks on the season—there's no excuse for Marcus Gilbert, Max Starks and company should Big Ben get pressured.
Keeping Roethlisberger upright will allow him to pick apart the Chiefs defense with short passes on crossing routes, opening things up outside and forcing one of Hali and Houston, if not both of them, to drop back into coverage more often than they are able to bring pressure.
Doing that will create more running room for the Steelers bevy of running backs, allowing Pittsburgh to control the clock and dictate the pace of the game.
Prediction: Steelers 21, Chiefs 9
If you're a fan of high-scoring games, this one's not for you.
Pittsburgh has won three games in a row this season and six consecutive games at Heinz Field, dating back to last year.
The Steelers simply outclass the Chiefs at virtually every position, and even if Kansas City can get the running game going, I have serious doubts that they can sustain it against the Steelers' formidable defense.
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