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Cheat Sheet: Steelers at Chiefs

How to Watch/Listen

  • TV coverage: Broadcast locally in Pittsburgh on CBS (KDKA-TV)
  • Steelers Radio Network - Game coverage begins at 4:25 p.m. ET; Pregame programming begins at 12:25 p.m.; Postgame coverage starts immediately following the game.
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Injury Update

The Steelers continued their preparation as they get ready to take on the Kansas City Chiefs this week.

Check out the most updated Injury Report: Click here >>>

Series History

This series began in 1970 with Kansas City winning the first two games, but then dropping seven straight to the Steelers. In the first 18 times these teams played, Pittsburgh only lost five times. Overall, Pittsburgh leads this series 23-12, but they have split the two playoff matchups, one in 1994 and most recently, in 2017. Kansas City won the most recent matchup in 2018 in a game in which Patrick Mahomes threw six touchdowns. but the Chiefs had lost the three previous matchups. In fact, the Steelers have lost just two of the eight most recent games between these two clubs.

The Season so Far

  • It has been a tale of two seasons for the Chiefs. Currently on a seven-game winning streak, Kansas City's numbers-especially on defense-during that stretch blow away their output in their first seven games of the season.
  • The Chiefs are 10-4, first place in the AFC West, and have outscored their opponents by 89 points after edging out the Chargers in overtime last Thursday night. This is Kansas City's final home game of the season. They are currently 6-2 at Arrowhead Stadium this year.
  • Kansas City is outscoring their opponents this year by 6.4 points per game, while Pittsburgh is being outscored by 3.1 points per game. The Chiefs have run 62 more offensive plays this year than their opponents.
  • Since tying the Lions in Week 10, Pittsburgh has outscored their opponents in the second half of games by 46 points. For the season, 64.3% of the Steelers points have come in the second half, the highest percentage in the NFL.
  • Over their first seven games, the Chiefs gave up 203 total points, which is 29 points per game. But over the last seven games, Kansas City has given up just 13.3 points per game. During this current seven game winning streak, the Chiefs have scored 197 points. That is 28.1 points per game. But if you exclude the two games against Las Vegas, the Chiefs are only scoring 21.6 points per game over their win streak. During the first seven games of the year, Kansas City was putting up 26.9 points per game.
  • Kansas City's offense averaged 7.3 yards per play last week. The Chiefs defense gives up 6.9 yards per play for the season, which is the most in the league, but only three offenses generate more yards per play than Kansas City. Pittsburgh's defense allows 5.6 yards per play.
  • Chiefs games average the fifth most combined plays and the seventh most total points.
  • Kansas City's rookies played 240 snaps last week. The Steelers rookies played 201 snaps. Both were amongst the most in the league in Week 15.
  • Kansas City produces .412 points per play run. The Steelers produce .327.
  • The Chiefs have failed on five fourth down attempts while their opponents have failed 11 times on fourth downs. Kansas City has missed as many field goals as their opponents this year. So, factoring this in with their traditional turnover ratio of zero, Kansas City is +6 in this advanced turnover metric. After their +4 performance last week, the Steelers are now +2 in traditional turnover differential. Pittsburgh has missed as many field goals as their opponents and have come up short on fourth downs one more time than the teams they have faced. That adds up to the Steelers being +1 in advanced turnover metric.
  • In Kansas City's first seven games, the Chiefs turnover differential was -10. They gave the ball away 17 times in those seven games. The Chiefs lost nine of their 14 fumbles in those first seven games but have recovered four of their eight since. During those first seven games, the Chiefs defense forced seven turnovers. Since, they have created 18 turnovers. Kansas City was 3-4 during those first seven games and haven't lost a game since.     
  • Kansas City is converting on 52.7% of their third down opportunities. Their defense is only allowing a third down conversion rate of 39%.
  • The Steelers and Chiefs are both in the middle of the pack in time of possession. But for the year, Kansas City runs 5.3 more plays per game than the Steelers. And last week, Kansas City ran 68 plays compared to the 45 that the Steelers ran against Tennessee.
  • Pittsburgh's opponents have been penalized 17 more times than the Steelers and on average, the Steelers benefit from 14.8 more in penalty yardage per game.
  • Let's examine yards per route run for the top receiving options in this game. Travis Kelce produces 1.99 yards of offense every time he runs a pass route. Only three tight ends with at least 50 targets this year are better. Pat Freiermuth sits at 1.31. As for the wide outs, Tyreek Hill's 2.25 is sixth amongst wide receivers with at least 50 targets. Mecole Hardman is at 1.41. As for the Steelers, they have two wide outs over two yards per route run. Chase Claypool is right at 2.0 while Diontae Johnson produces 2.12 yards every time he goes on a pass route. James Washington is next best on the Steelers at .93 and Ray Ray McCloud sits at .75.
  • Only the Vikings average more sacks per game than Pittsburgh. Kansas City's 1.7 sacks per game ranks 28th. But the Steelers allow 2.4 sacks per game, which ranks in the middle of the league while Kansas City gives up just 1.8 sacks per game. Only four teams are better.
  • Roethlisberger's average depth of target last week was 5.9 yards downfield. For the season, it is 6.7. As for Mahomes, he threw the ball on average, 8.7, yards downfield last week and is at 7.4 for the season.
  • Over the past five games, the Steelers have been outrushed by 575 yards and have surrendered 907 yards on the ground during that time.

When Pittsburgh has the Ball

  • The Chargers are the only team since Week 7 to score more than 17 points against Kansas City.
  • The first time Kansas City forced a punt last week was on the Chargers final drive of regulation. Los Angeles rushed for 192 yards in that game.
  • Last week was Ben Roethlisberger's first game this year without throwing a touchdown pass, but he did find the end zone on the ground.
  • In their first seven games, Kansas City's defense allowed 8.6 yards per pass attempt. In their last seven games it has been just 6.2 yards per attempt. Roethlisberger averages 6.7 yards per pass attempt. The Chiefs have not allowed more than 270 passing yards to a quarterback since Week 5.
  • The Chiefs defense has 24 sacks this year. Chris Jones has seven of those sacks despite only playing in 11 games this year. No one else on the team has more than three. The Chiefs didn't record a sack last week on 38 passing attempts by Justin Herbert with Jones out of the lineup.
  • Last week, the Chiefs defense was on the field for 79 snaps, but only Tyrann Mathieu, Nick Bolton, and Charvarius Ward played more than 68 plays and Kansas City had 10 defenders play 50 snaps or more.
  • Pittsburgh's 75% usage of 11 Personnel (1 RB/3 WR) is higher than every team in the league except for the Rams.
  • Diontae Johnson has received 26% of all the Steelers targets in 2021 despite missing one game. He has five or more targets in nine straight games, which is the third longest streak of its kind right now in the NFL.
  • In the past three games, Chase Claypool run a route on just 70% or less of the offensive plays. In each of his last three road games, Claypool has gone over 80 receiving yards.
  • Pat Freiermuth has a touchdown catch in four straight road games. The Chiefs allow a 73.3% catch rate and 8.0 yards per target to tight ends. That ranks 28th and 26th in the NFL respectively.
  • Najee Harris has run a route on 68% and has been targeted 16% of all of Pittsburgh's pass plays this year. He caught 34 passes in his first six games as a pro, but only 28 since. Still, Harris' 88.9% backfield touch share is the highest in the league, as is his 85.4% snap share. Harris played 100% of the offensive snaps last week and has played 98% of the snaps over the past three games.
  • The Chiefs defense allows the third most yards per rushing attempt before first contact.
  • The Steelers have used their no-huddle package 24% of the time over their past four games. That is the third highest rate over that time.

When Kansas City has the Ball

  • Kansas City throws the ball more than league average in all situations. They throw it 9% more than average when trailing by four or more points. When they are within three points either winning or losing, Kansas City throws it 8% more than league average. And even with a lead of four or more points, the Chiefs pass it 12% more than average.
  • The Chiefs receivers have been targeted in total, 532 times. 266 of those targets have gone to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. That is exactly 50% of Kansas City's targets, which is astounding. Hill and Kelce account for over 50% of the Chiefs receiving touchdowns. Their combined 2,244 receiving yards is 54% of Kansas City's total production for the year in this department. Last Thursday, Mahomes completed 31 passes for 410 yards with 22 of those receptions and 339 yards from Kelce and Hill.
  • What Kelce has done over the past six seasons is truly remarkable for an NFL tight end. This is Kelce's average production per game over that stretch of 92 games: 8.6 targets per game, six catches per game, 78 receiving yards per game, and just under half a receiving touchdown per game played. Incidentally, Kelce has only missed two games in the last six seasons. He is the first ever tight end to have six seasons in a row with 1,000 receiving yards. Kelce's 191 receiving yards last week was his career high. He leads all NFL tight ends in this department.
  • If we were to do the same thing for Hill over his past five seasons, he has appeared in 72 games. On average, Hill is targeted 8.5 times per game, catches 5.7 balls per game for 83 receiving yards per game and .69 receiving touchdowns every game Hill steps on the field. After last week, Hill now has four games this season with double digit receptions, which is tied for most in the league. Hill also leads the entire NFL in third down receptions.
  • Should we do this for Mahomes? Heck, why not: Mahomes has started 60 games in the NFL. His average game produces 303.4 yards through the air and 2.4 passing touchdowns. Mahomes' career TD/INT ratio is 144/37.
  • Mahomes' 410 passing yards last week was his best of the season to date. The last time Mahomes faced the Steelers, he posted a 154.8 passing rating, which is his career best. He also threw six touchdowns in that game, which was his third ever career start.
  • 55.6% of the Chiefs passing yardage comes after the catch, which is the highest percentage in the league. Kelce has produced 540 yards and Hill has racked up 424 after catching the football. In the previous three seasons, Mahomes has gotten 45.1%, 49.2%, and 49.8% of his passing yards after the catch. Mahomes' 8.2 average target depth this season is the lowest of his career.
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire has only appeared in nine games, but his 490 rushing yards leads the Chiefs. Kansas City's top three rushers, Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, and Mahomes, combine for only 1,190 yards on the ground.
  • Last week against Los Angeles, Edwards-Helaire took control of this backfield to some degree. He played 50 of a possible 71 offensive snaps. Williams played just 21 snaps. In that game, three Chiefs wide receivers, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, and Mecole Hardman, all played between 31 and 49 snaps. Kansas City also got two tight ends other than Kelce, Noah Gray and Blake Bell, involved for 20 and 15 plays respectively.
  • Williams has just five touches last week and has eight or fewer touches in three of the four games since Edwards-Helaire returned from injury. Since his return, Edwards-Helaire has received 45 of the 74 carries amongst Chiefs running backs.
  • The Eagles are the only offense in the league averaging more yards on the ground before first contact than Kansas City. The Chiefs are getting 1.8 yards per clip before their ball carriers are being touched.
  • Kansas City has scored 50 touchdowns through the air, but just 13 on the ground.
  • The Chiefs are right at league average at 21% with their usage of 12 Personnel (1 RB/ 2 TE). They are slightly above average with 11 Personnel (1 RB/3 WR), using it on 66% of their snaps. They throw out of 11 Personnel 73% of the time as opposed to 52% of the time in 12 Personnel. But when running the ball, Kansas City averages just 3.9 yards from 12 Personnel as opposed to 4.9 from 11 Personnel.
  • TJ Watt not only leads in the NFL in sacks, but for his career, Watt's 67 sacks are the third most over a players first five seasons…with three games still to play.
  • In the last six games, the Steelers have allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing running backs four times and are allowing 189 rushing yards per game during that time.
  • The Chiefs are the only offense in the league to convert over half of their third down opportunities. Kansas City converts on third downs 52.7% of the time. The Chiefs have also turned 30.1% of their first and second down snaps into first downs or touchdowns, also the best rate in the league.
  • Pittsburgh's red zone defense is the fourth best in the NFL this year. The Chiefs red zone offense currently ranks 17th.

Special Teams

  • On kickoff returns, the Chiefs are outproducing their opponents by 4.6 yards on average. But on punt returns, Kansas City is giving up a whopping 7.4 more yards per return than the Chiefs are producing.

The Advanced Scout Podcast

Check out Matt's podcast preview on the Chiefs: Listen Here >>>

Matt's Most Memorable Moment: January 8*th*, 1994: Wild Card Game: Chiefs 27, Steelers 13 (OT), Arrowhead Stadium

It is rather surprising that the Steelers and Kansas City have only met in the playoffs twice over the last 50+ years. Houston won the division in 1993, but the Steelers got into the dance as a wild card team and headed to Kansas City in the first round of the playoffs. Merrill Hoge's 32-yard touchdown reception opened the scoring in this game and Pittsburgh took a 17-7 lead into halftime. The play of the game came very late in the game when the Steelers had a punt blocked, giving the Chiefs the ball on Pittsburgh's nine-yard line. On fourth down, Joe Montana threw a touchdown to Tim Barnett to send this game into overtime. Nick Lowery nailed a 32-yard field goal with 11:03 left in overtime for the win. The Chiefs went on to beat Houston the next week before finally falling to the Bills in the AFC Championship.

Facts from NFL Research

  • The Chiefs have turned the ball over 25 times this season but have an even turnover differential.
  • They have turned the ball over two or more times in all four of their losses this season.
  • TJ Watt is 5.0 sacks behind HOF Michael Strahan's record of 22.5 sacks in 2001.
  • Watt would need to average 1.8 sacks in the final 3 games to break Strahan's record.

Key Matchups

  • Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill vs. Steelers CB Joe Haden- Hill is the most terrifying wide receiver in the NFL, but will he be able to play or not in this game? Kansas City is incredibly reliant on Hill and Travis Kelce for their receiving production, but both players must clear COVID protocols to play on Sunday. Haden returned to action last week and was an immediate difference maker to Pittsburgh's defense. If Hill does play, the Chiefs will line him up all over the formation, including out of the slot where Hill often attacks the deep middle of the field.
  • Steelers Interior OL vs. Chiefs DT Chris Jones- Jones, Kansas City's best defensive player, was out of the lineup last Thursday. And he was desperately missed. He will return for this game and that sets up to be a real problem for Pittsburgh's guards and center. The interior of the Steelers offensive line has not rapidly progressed this year and that group had a real tough time against another top defensive tackle, Jeffery Simmons, last week. Jones' presence presents a lot of problems.