Posted on January 13, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Revenge can be a powerful motivational tool. It can drive a player to dig deeper than they thought possible to make the big play for their team when it is needed most. However, at the same time, if a player is unable to keep the passion and intensity revenge brings out in check, it can lead to a stupid mistake that costs the team the game.
There is a very good chance many of the Kansas City Chiefs may have revenge on their minds when they face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But if they are smart, they’ll just play the game.
Earlier this season, the Steelers didn’t just beat the Chiefs, they embarrassed them, 43-14. All three of Pittsburgh’s “Big Three” had stellar days. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell accounted for 178 yards from scrimmage (144 rushing, 34 receiving) and Antonio Brown had four receptions for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Pittsburgh will enter Sunday’s game riding an eight-game winning streak and with a vastly improved defense. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t playing his best of late (seven interceptions over the last four games), but that hasn’t mattered since Le’Veon Bell has been unstoppable.
So—why should fans believe the game is going to be any different this time? Vegas seems to think the game will be different. So far, the Chiefs are favored by either a point or 1.5 points (depending on the sportsbook).
How in the world does a team that beat another by 29-points this season become the underdog?
At this time of year, it doesn’t matter how well you played during the season, but who has the hot hand now. So then how is it that a team on an 8-game winning streak doesn’t qualify as the hot hand?
Well–when your streak involves beating some of the worst teams in the league and half of them by just a touchdown or less, the streak is not that impressive. Le’Veon Bell has played well, but Ben Roethlisberger has struggled against some weak competition.
Without the passing game clicking as well as it has been known to, they failed to put anyone away. Against Miami last week, they had a 14-point lead less than 10-minutes into the game setting the stage for an epic blowout, but the final was only 30-6.
If the Steelers let the Chiefs hang around, Kansas City has the playmakers to mount a comeback. Rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill has become a threat to score whenever he gets his hands on the ball (12 touchdowns; three rushing, six receiving, three on special teams).
Tight end Travis Kelce has turned into an offensive machine. Over the last seven games, he made 43 receptions for 659 yards (including four 100+ yard games). He and Hill accounted for seven touchdowns just in the last six games.
Along with Hill and Kelce, Alex Smith has a solid veteran wide receiver in Jeremy Macklin, a capable young receiver in Chris Conley, and a good run game powered by Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West (who are also solid receiving threats).
The Chiefs will need to score some points against the Steelers, but the defense is going to have to step up to the challenge as well. They can’t let Ben Roethlisberger throw deep balls like they did the first time (he was 4-5 from 30+ yards with three touchdowns). Since Week Four they have only allowed teams to connect on six of 21 throws of 30+ yards (two touchdowns).
If the defense can step up to the challenge and Alex Smith and the offense do not turn the ball over, Kansas City could make it past the division round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Keeping it close will definitely work in their favor as well.
But if they let Le’Veon Bell or Ben Roethlisberger heat up, they could be in trouble.