History is not on the side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to stathead, the Steelers listed by the NFL betting lines as 13-point underdogs against two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs, are the biggest underdogs in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
There have been 10 wild-card games featuring a double-digit line and the favorites are 9-1 straight up and 8-2 against the spread. The lone win came when Seattle defeated New Orleans in 2010 as a 10-point underdog. Last season, Washington covered as a 10-point underdog against eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay.
Only three of those games involved AFC teams. The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Denver Broncos by 25 as a 10-point favorite in 2004. In 2007, the San Diego Chargers were favored by 10 against Tennessee and won by 11, and in 2016, the Steelers were favored by 11 and rolled to an 18-point win over Miami.
Kansas City crushed visiting PIttsburgh 36-10 in Week 16. The Chiefs (+200) have the best odds to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for the third year in a row while the Steelers (+4000) have the longest odds to reach the Super Bowl among the 14 playoff teams.
The temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the low 30s with little chance of rain or snow.
- Game: Pittsburgh (9-7-1) vs Kansas City (12-5)
- Location: Arrowhead Stadium
- Day/Time: Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Television: NBC
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs AFC Wild Card 2022
Swan Song for Roethlisberger
With two games left in the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were limping along with a 7-7-1 record and looking up at multiple teams in a better position to qualify for the postseason than the perennial playoff contenders.
It had to be a little bittersweet for veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who led the Steelers to 11 playoff appearances, three trips to the Super Bowl and two Super Bowl titles. Yet, it was looking as if his final NFL season would end with a regular-season game against rival Baltimore.
Then things started to happen. Baltimore was in a tailspin that led to the Ravens losing their final six games and the Indianapolis Colts dropped their final two games, including a stunner to lowly Jacksonville. Finally, a field goal as time expired in overtime lifted the Las Vegas Raiders into the playoffs and clinched a spot for Roethlisberger and the Steelers as well.
It was hardly the best season of Roethlisberger’s career. No quarterback slated to start in the playoffs had a lower passing rating than Roethlisberger. He had never averaged less than seven yards per passing attempt in his first 15 NFL seasons, but in the last three years, it has been 5.7, 6.3 and 6.2. It doesn’t help that Roethlisberger is slowed by a shoulder issue that resulted in him being a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice.
Whoever is the next quarterback for the Steelers, there will be offensive playmakers around him. Rookie running back Najee Harris finished fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, while fellow rookie Pat Freiermuth teams with receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool to provide receiving options.
The total set by the NFL picks against the spread has gone under in four of Pittsburgh’s last five games against Kansas City.
Test Run for KC’s Revamped Offensive Line
The lasting images of the most recent Super Bowl were of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes being swarmed by multiple Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mahomes has set the NFL on fire since taking over as the starter in 2018. But with both starting offensive tackles out with injury and facing one of the most athletic and aggressive defensive front sevens in the NFL, it was a recipe for disaster.
Mahomes was only sacked twice but had to hurry countless throws as Tampa Bay’s defensive linemen and linebackers came flying through the line with relative ease. Kansas City traded multiple draft picks, including a first-round selection, for tackle Orlando Brown. Lucas Niang returned after opting out in the 2020 season while Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith started from the season opener after being taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
This is the time of the year where the improvement in the offensive line must show up.
What better way to get started than to face Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. Watt, who tied the NFL record with 22½ sacks this season.
There were some mixed results as Mahomes was sacked 28 times, including four in a 27-3 loss to Tennessee, a game that ultimately cost Kansas City the No. 1 seed for the AFC playoffs.
Kansas City ranked in the top five in the NFL in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense. The Chiefs are playing a Pittsburgh team that averaged the fewest points per game of any of the playoff teams. Pittsburgh can’t go score for score with Kansas City, but if the Steelers can disrupt Mahomes like the Buccaneers did, perhaps they could pull off the stunning upset as 13-point underdogs according to the Las Vegas odds.
The Chiefs are 6-2 in their last eight games against the spread.
Offense in Chiefs Favor
Pittsburgh has scored 20 points or less in six of its last eight games while Kansas City has scored at least 30 points in six of its last eight playoff games, so that does not bode well for the Steelers.
The Steelers will continue to play without offensive lineman Kevin Dotson, who is on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Watt, Roethlisberger and Najee Harris are showing up on the injury report but expect them to be out there on Sunday.
Receiver Tyreek Hill (foot), tight end Travis Kelce (hip), running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (collarbone), offensive tackle Orlando Brown (calf) and linebacker Willie Gay (wrist) are expected to play for Kansas City but those are some pretty big names so those who bet online will monitor the practice reports.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said everybody practiced today.
Specific to Tyreek Hill (heel), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder), Darrel Williams (toe), Reid said they “looked good” in practice and team will continue evaluating them in the coming days.
— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) January 12, 2022
The total of 46 seems a bit low if the Chiefs have all of their offensive stars available to play.