Undefeated through five weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs are looking like Super Bowl contenders thanks to surprising developments from Alex Smith, sheer dominance from Kareem Hunt, and a defense that plays better than the statistics indicate. This week, they welcome their first serious threat to their streak in four weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers. While coming off a blowout loss to Jacksonville, they still boast elite talents in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Chiefs have everything needed to beat Pittsburgh (good run game, quality cover men), but since they’ll need more than that, so here are my players to watch.
It was Fisher’s (very bad, to me) holding penalty against James Harrison in the playoff loss last season that nullified the two-point conversion that would’ve tied the game for the Chiefs, and in a match they would ultimately lose, it proved to some that Fisher still had a long way to go. This season, he’s been quite a protector, and that has allowed Smith to make big plays for this offense. James Harrison might be 38, but he can still push the pocket. This is a revenge game on many levels, and I wonder if Fisher will have it out for the veteran linebacker.
Not only suffering a concussion last weekend, but memory loss as well, it was quite a scary weekend for the best tight end in football. With Aaron Hernandez finally being linked to CTE, it’s just another reminder of the brutality that is the NFL. I hope for the best regarding his long term health, but looking at this weekend in a vacuum, he’s going to be out there playing today.
Albert Wilson/Demarcus Robinson
In the wake of Chris Conley’s torn achilles, everyone of the Chiefs receiver depth chart got bumped up. Wilson, who’s primarily worked in the slot in his Chiefs tenure, is my most likely bet to take Conley’s outside snaps, but they could also put the bigger Robinson there and leave Wilson where he operates best. Robinson doesn’t have a lot of snaps under his belt, so it will be interesting to see how the Chiefs use their healthy receivers. In addition, Wilson was d0wngraded to questionable and is likely a game-time decision.
After surrendering three of Deshaun Watson’s five touchdown passes, the oft-targeted corner (most in NFL – 25% of targets come his way) will be heavily targeted again. Whether covering Martavis Bryant or Antonio Brown, he’ll be looked at long and hard by Ben Rothelisberger. That backfired on Phillip Rivers back in Week 3, however, when he snatched a pair of interceptions. Mitchell’s confidence is unshakable, which allows him to continue to battle, and I expect a resurgent game from him this weekend.
Prediction: The Chiefs secondary turns in a scintillating performance and holds the Steelers to fewer than two hundred passing yards, while Alex Smith nearly has that after one half. Chiefs 28-14.
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