If there was every a time that the Steelers needed an easy game, this is it. The Steelers are coming off of a depressing 18-12 loss to the Bengals and look to take out their frustrations versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Steelers will be without strong safety Troy Polamalu for the 5th game this season, as Polamalu strained his PCL last week in the loss. Also sidelined once again is defensive end Travis Kirschke, but Nick Eason and rookie Ziggy Hood have been filling in admirable in his absence.
The Steelers #1 rush defense will look to bottle up Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and force quarterback Matt Cassel into predictable passing situations. Cassel has only 10 touchdowns versus 6 interceptions on the season and will also be without his top wide receiver Dwayne Bowe who was suspended for four games for violating the NFL\’s policy on performance enhancing substances. Recently signed veteran Chris Chambers will assume the number one receiver spot and spend most of his day guarded by Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. Linebacker James Harrison will look to use his speed to beat second year left tackle Branden Albert and put pressure on Cassel.
On offense, the Steelers offense looks to feast on the Chiefs 27th ranked defense by running against the Chiefs front 7 and attacking corners Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr through the air. The Steelers will likely dedicate more to the running game this week to get running back Rashard Mendenhall loose on some big plays. The Steelers offensive line has been vocal about wanting to run more and they should get their wish.
The biggest worry the Steelers have in this game is their special teams kick coverages which they hope to energize this week by the promotion of linebacker Donovan Woods from the practice squad. Woods was an integral part on the 2008 kick coverage team. The Steelers kick return squad might also see a rotation that will include rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace in order to provide a spark.
If the Steelers had won last week versus the Bengals, this might be considered a trap game, but you can bet that this game will be treated as a must win game. The Chiefs offense is putrid and baring multiple Steelers turnovers and injuries, this should be a well needed blowout.
Prediction: Steelers 38 Chiefs 3