When the Steelers welcome Kansas City on Sunday evening, they face a foe that they have split with the previous two seasons. However, this Chiefs team closely resembles the Eagles squad that took the black-and-gold out behind the woodshed and administered a whooping that made even Steeler Nation wince every time they sat down over the past five days. With thoughts of redemption prevalent under their collective helmets and head sets, the Steelers will see a lot of the following red and gold-clad warriors Sunday in Prime Time.
QB-No. 11 Alex Smith
Alex Smith is not flashy. However, he's been pretty effective and knows how to win, going 75-53-1 in his career. Smith is not going to beat you by going over the top, but he makes great use out of his backs and tight ends and throws a precise bullet in the short-to-medium game. If he has to, he can take off and run effectively on a defense. He had 498 yards on-the-ground in 2015. No. 11 has thrown for 786 yards so far in 2016, with 3 touchdowns and a pick. With the short game having been very effective last week against the Steelers, look for Smith to try and work the same game plan.
WR- No. 19 Jeremy Maclin
Last year, Maclin brought back a dimension that the Chiefs had not boasted for a few years prior...a legitimate threat of a wideout. Reuniting with Andy Reid, Maclin was dynamic by pulling in 87 balls for 1088 yards in 2015. The problem for Maclin is that Alex Smith doesn't throw down the field very much at all, 15% in 2015. Maclin, however, is dangerous and needs to be accounted for. So far this year, Maclin has 15 catches for 166 yards.
CB- No. 22 Marcus Peters
The second-year man out of Washington is off to one of the best starts in history for a cornerback. In 19 games, Peters has snagged 12 interceptions. He was highly coveted by the Steelers in the 2015 draft, but did not fall far enough to them. This week, Ben Roethlisberger noted his superior hands for a corner, while Mike Tomlin praised his coverage skills. "He's the type of calculated risk-taker that's required to be great at that position," Tomlin said. The bump-and-run defender has excellent size and speed and great ball skills. His battles with Antonio Brown will be one to watch, but OC Todd Haley has hinted at playing away from Peters too. Peters has missed practice this week while battling the flu, but will play and may be the one giving the Steelers the dry heaves.m
RB- No. 25 Jamaal Charles
When healthy, Charles is one of the most dangerous weapons in the entire league. Agile and blessed with sprinter's speed, Jamaal is dangerous in the clear. Five of the past seven years, the running back out of Texas has rushed for over 1000 yards five times. The other two years were cut short early by injuries. It's not certain how Charles' knee will respond and it's expected that Charles will be on a snap-count after a slow recovery. However, a defense can't take a guy with the pedigree like Charles for granted. He can bury you in an instant.
S- No. 29 Eric Berry
Just months after beating cancer, Berry had one of the best seasons of his career in 2015. Dominant against the pass and run, the four-time Pro Bowler came back stronger with 61 total tackles, two interceptions and ten passes defended. So far in 2016, the strong safety has 14 total tackles, an interception and three passes defended.
RB- No. 32 Spencer Ware
Even with Jamaal Charles returning from last year's ACL injury, Spencer Ware, who has fillied in for Charles more than quite well, will still see a lot of action. The former Seahawks draft pick has carried the ball-handling responsibilities with great success. Although Jamaal Charles will let his presence be known on Sunday evening, Ware will continue to see a majority of the Chiefs opportunities out of the backfield. The LSU alum has rushed for 202 yards an is averaging 4.9 YPC over three games and has added another 190 yards on 18 receptions this year. Ware is adept at shaking tackles and making defenders miss, but his speed is a weapon too.
ILB- No. 56 Derrick Johnson
Derrick Johnson is the mainstay, the heart and the leader of the Kansas City defense. He has achieved over 100 tackles in five-out-of-the-last-six years. A Chief since being drafted in 2005, the linebacker continues to excel and lead the KC "dee" in his 12th season as a pro. Last year, Johnson did it all again with 116 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 pickoffs. This season, the four-time Pro Bowler has tallied 26 tackles, a sack and an interception return for a touchdown. Johnson thoroughly dominated the Jets last week with ten tackles, the aforementioned INT/TD and forced another interception by tipping it into a teammates arms. No. 56 also has the ability to hod his own in one-on-one action with opposing running backs. A duel with Lev Bell will be one to watch for.
LT- No. 72 Eric Fisher
Fisher struggled early after being the first-overall player picked on the 2013 draft out of Central Michigan. However, Fisher improved a tad each year. The tall and agile Fisher is strong in pass protection and will be tested by Jarvis Jones and James Harrison this weekend. However, Sheldon Richardson was a handful last week for Fisher. He gave up a sack, a hit and a hurry against the Jets.
TE- No. 87 Travis Kelce
The 6'5" TE from the University of Cincinnati ranks among the best at his position and gave the Steelers defense fits last year, going for 73 yards on five catches. Kelce has caught 17 passes and scored once over three games in 2016. Kelce is a receiving threat that likes to move around to take advantage of possible mismatches. The Steelers, who give up a considerable amount of yards in the seam, will have to account for Kelce. If they don't, it could be another long night.
NT- No. 92 Dontari Poe
Poe, at 6'3" and 346 lbs, is a load of humanity that clogs running lanes and can still get into the opponent's backfield. The two-time selection to the Pro Bowl is mobile, massive and a task to tangle with. Center Maurkice Pouncey will have his hands full with the man who had six sacks in 2016.
Other Notable Names to look out for:
HC Andy Reid, OC Brad Childress and Matt Nagy, DC Bob Sutton, No. 2 K Cairo Santos, No. 5 P Dustin Colquitt, No. 10 KR Tyreek Hill, No. 12 WR Albert Wilson, No. 17 WR Chris Conley, No. 23 CB Phillip Gaines, No. 38 S Ron Parker, No. 55 LB Dee Ford, No. 61 C Mitch Morse, No. 71 RT Mitchell Schwartz, No. 91 LB Tamba Hali, No. 96 DL Jaye Howard