Can Chiefs overcome their No. 1 nemesis?

By Steve Sell
September 14, 2018

The Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers are in different divisions in the AFC, but that hasn’t kept the teams from clashing seemingly every year.

There’s just some teams you don’t want to play and for the Chiefs that would be the Steelers as they dread every meeting.

Since 2000, the teams have met an inordinate 11 times. Pittsburgh has won eight of those meetings, the last Chiefs win coming in 2015 when Landry Jones was quarterbacking for the Steelers in place of the injured Big Ben Roethlisberger.

There have been some downright ugly games for the Chiefs. In the 2017 playoff game in January, the Steelers never scored a touchdown at Arrowhead Stadium, yet left with an 18-16 victory on six field goals.

Last year’s regular-season game was an inept offensive performance by both teams, with Pittsburgh again going into Arrowhead and slogging its way to a 19-13 victory.

There were some lopsided Chiefs losses in the 2000s, 43-14 in 2016, 45-7 in 2006 and 41-20 in 2003.

When looking at these 11 games, a common thread is the Chiefs not scoring a lot of points. In eight of the games, the Chiefs have scored in the teens or less. 

So the Chiefs have a lot of history to overcome on Sunday when they head to Steel Town for a game that I would guess 90 percent of KC fans had penciled in as a loss during the preseason.

But that number is probably far less after the Week 1 developments.

The Chiefs’ offense looked like world-beaters in a 38-28 win over Los Angeles. Most encouraging is that KC piled up the points even though mainstays Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Kareem Hunt were virtually uninvolved.

The Chiefs’ defense was awful, but it’s something they’re just going to have to live with. There’s no quick fixes, no cures. The unit is bad and it’s a year the offense is going to have the carry the load.

But Pittsburgh, which was my pick to win the Super Bowl before the season, is suddenly finding itself swirling in turmoil and more vulnerable now than it will be later in the season.

The Steelers opened the season blowing a 21-7 lead to Cleveland and finishing with a 21-21 tie. CLEVELAND! The team that was 0-16 last year. The aging and statue-like Roethlisbeger was awful and is said to have a bad elbow, probably the reason he was picked four times and threw only one TD pass.

Le’Veon Bell, whose eyes light up when he knows the Chiefs are on the other side of the ball, will not play against Kansas City as he’s still a holdout, ticking off his teammates. That would be a cause for celebration except for the fact James Conner looked like he was ready for the Hall of Fame in his stead. Conner was the NFL’s best back in Week 1.

James Harrison is long gone from the Steelers’ defense and even when he was in his late 30s, he caused the Chiefs nightmares.

But Kansas City fans expecting the same type of fireworks this week will be disappointed. There’s no way Patrick Mahomes can approach last week’s numbers and you can bet the Steelers will do everything they can to make Tyreek Hill a non-factor. In four exhibition games and the season opener, the Chiefs have shown no semblance of a running game, which has to be a cause for concern. Mahomes can’t just sit back there and wing it every down.

There are some factors that tend to favor the Chiefs this week. But I believe past history will rear its ugly head again.

Pittsburgh 31, Kansas City 27.