Week 12, and the Steelers are back after a bye week looking at a Sunday night matchup in Arrowhead against the Chiefs. KC is down a man, and it’s a pretty big one, as QB Matt Cassel is done for the year. The team inked free agent QB Kyle Orton this week, but reports say that it will still be Tyler Palko under center when the Steelers come to town.
They are a double digit road favorite, and while some say Sunday has all the makings of a trap game, the Steelers know that a week off should heal up some players and help them get back to business. With that, here’s our preview and keys to find out if they can get to 8-3 Sunday night.
1. Big Ben’s Digit – Though the Steelers don’t seem to be too concerned with their quarterback’s injury, it remains to be seen if a team that’s now built on throwing the football will be as proficient in that area because of it. Pittsburgh doesn’t need to be real explosive to handle the punchless Chiefs, but any struggles on offense would work to Kansas City’s benefit if it can keep the usually-lively Arrowhead crowd fired up by keeping the score close deep into the contest.
2. Get off to a Fast Start – Both teams have their reasons for wanting to run the ball here, with the Steelers having a quarterback with an injured hand and the Chiefs forced to trot out a fringe player at the position, and they’ll in better position to do so by sitting on an early lead. It’s important for the Steelers to get off to a quick start, as it will put a ton of pressure on Palko, who has yet to prove he’s capable of leading a team back from a deficit and he’ll be facing a Pittsburgh defense that’s fourth in the NFL in points allowed.
3. Turnovers – Realistically, Kansas City’s only chance of coming out with a win in this game is if the Steelers play sloppy, which isn’t out of the question for a team with a minus-10 turnover ratio on the season. The Chiefs have shown they can be successful when their defense is opportunistic, as they’ve garnered 11 takeaways in their four victories but just five in their six losses.
Prediction – The Chiefs may have gotten a boost Wednesday when they grabbed Orton off the waiver wire, but early indications are he will not play in this game, leaving Palko to face a Steelers team that is getting healthy, and playing good football. Roethlisberger is playing at a Pro Bowl level, and the black and gold are ready to make a run for another Super Bowl, and they can’t afford to let a game like this slip away. Look for Roethlisberger and the Steelers to beat up Palko and the Steelers to get to 8-3. Pittsburgh 27 Kansas City 10
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