The Pittsburgh Steelers have to be salty after their Week 3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and what better way to get such a bad taste out of your mouth than to host a prime time game at Heinz Field. But what do we really know about the Kansas City Chiefs? Sure, they have Andy Reid as the coach, Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Justin Houston and some other household names, but ultimately, we wanted to know more.
I was able to get a chance to talk to Joel Thorman, editor of Arrowhead Pride (SB Nation's Chiefs Site), about the upcoming matchup, and he provided tremendous insight -- and a prediction. Check it out, and check out Arrowhead Pride for the best Chiefs news and updates on the web.
The Chiefs are a tough nut to crack for me. Their season seems to be very inconsistent through the first 3 weeks. What are they doing well, and where are they struggling?
Yeah they have been inconsistent. They weren't very good at stopping the run early and now they've done a better job. They didn't force any turnovers in Week 1 and then forced eight last week. What we think we know about these Chiefs is that they have a good defense. The pass rush isn't where it needs to be, that's for sure. That could be a problem against a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger. Everywhere else on defense they're pretty solid though. This defense has enough weapons that it should be one of the strengths of the year, especially turnover machine Marcus Peters. Offensively, it's a mixed bag. On paper, this should be the Chiefs best group. On the field, they haven't been. The Chiefs had eight turnovers last week but just 24 points off of it, and 14 of those were return touchdowns from turnovers. 24-3 looks impressive but shouldn't it have been more? The offense is the big question mark. I don't want to forget special teams where the Chiefs excel. You will hear about Tyreek Hill this week.
Injuries happen to everyone, but Jamaal Charles is reportedly going to return this Sunday night. Do you think he will actually play, and if so, what should fans expect from the All-Pro running back?
I wouldn't expect much. We've been going through this song and dance for a few weeks now where Andy Reid says he is making progress and then he doesn't play. So we'll see if he actually plays. I have no idea. If he does, I wouldn't expect much at all. The Chiefs have no motivation to rush Jamaal Charles back. None. Spencer Ware has the second most yards from scrimmage and Charcandrick West put up over 100 on the ground last year against this Steelers defense. The Chiefs have the backs to compete without Jamaal so I expect them to take it very slow with him. If he does play this week, I would guess a few touches and that's it. The thing is though, Jamaal makes the Chiefs special.They can be good without him but they can't be great without him. Hopefully he's all revved up by midseason for a second half push.
Although the Chiefs aren't getting a ton of pressure on the quarterback, they have been a turnover machine on defense. Is this a product of scheme, or just playing really bad quarterbacks?
A little bit of everything. The Chiefs have gotten a lot of turnovers under defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. Marcus Peters leads the NFL in interceptions since he came into the league. It's not a fluke (although eight turnovers last week is a little fluky). I can't deny that the Chiefs got some help from bad quarterbacks. Brock Osweiler has four picks already this year and Marcus Peters has two of them. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw one interception in the first half and then five in the second when they were trying to rally. Some of his second half interceptions were so bad I could have picked it off (anyone looking for a middle-aged, out of shape safety?). Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 20 picks in his last 14 games so I would put money on the Chiefs getting one next weekend.
Alex Smith doesn't get any credit around the league, and from the media. What is he doing so well to help keep the Chiefs winning, and a viable contender in the AFC?
This was a better question last year when Alex was playing better during their winning streak. Statistically he's doing well this year and on pace for a number of career highs. However, the Chiefs really don't care about the stats. If Alex is throwing for 4,000 yards and attempting 500-plus passes, the Chiefs probably aren't winning. That's not who they are. They're at their best when they're balanced, the running game is working well and Alex can frustrate the hell out of defenses with his running ability. We haven't seen the running as much this year which is a bit of a disappointment but we know he's capable of it. Alex has been on a team with a good defense for three-plus years now and he knows turnovers matter so it's very valuable that he generally protects the ball well. People can laugh at Alex not screwing it up being a strength of his but those people are also probably cheering for the quarterback that just threw six picks last week.
The Steelers are favorites to win this game, but are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Eagles in Week 3. How do you see the game shaking out, and if you could so kindly give us a score prediction, that would be awesome.
I'm not very confident in the Chiefs. The Steelers are going to be mad. Big Ben hasn't had two losses in a row since 2013. This is a home primetime game for the Steelers where the crowd is going to be amped up. The Steelers will be looking to get right. This isn't the same Chiefs defense as the past few years. They're different without Justin Houston. Pittsburgh will win, 24-16.