The Kansas City Chiefs host the defending Super Bowl champions when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town. The Chiefs won last week. If they win this week, that’s what they call a winning streak. It has been known to happen before.
Here are three players (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) from each team to keep your eyes on.
Offense: Chris Chambers
Will the No. 1 receiver please stand up.
With Dwayne Bowe out for the next month, the Chiefs need somebody — anybody — to be a playmaker if the offense has any hope of putting points on the board. It’s a tall task, but one that Chambers just might be up to meeting. In his two games with the team since being picked up on waivers from the Chargers, the veteran receiver has averaged nearly 23 yards per reception. If Matt Cassel hopes to stretch the field, Chambers will have to be the one making the plays down the field.
For what it’s worth, Bowe — the man he is trying to replace — averaged 14.1 yards per reception.
Defense: Andy Studebaker
It looks like Mike Vrabel is going to be out at least the next few games with a knee injury and Studebaker will be taking his spot in the starting lineup.
Last week he took over for the veteran and recorded 6 tackles. With Corey Mays, Demorrio Williams and Tamba Hali playing well at the other three linebacker spots, a lot of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of the young Studebaker.
Special Teams: Bobby Wade
With Dantrell Savage likely out of the lineup with an injury (no, not fumblitis) and Dwayne Bowe’s suspension, Wade will be back on the field and ready to make an impact. If there is one area that the Chiefs have shown no improvement at all, it’s punt return.
Wade handled the duties every game he has been active, but due to a numbers game was inactive the last two weeks. If Kansas City plans to upset Pittsburgh Sunday, they will need to get a big play from one of the return units. With the Steelers focusing primarily on the kick return this week, that could open the door for Wade on punts. If he can take one to the house, it would be the first time for the Chiefs in 55 games.
Offense: Ben Roethlisberger
Coming off a game in which he only completed a JaMarcus Russell-like 50% of his passes in a loss to the Bengals, the Steelers signal caller will be looking to redeem himself. He will get to try and do that against a Chiefs defense that will be looking to load the box up to stop the running game, giving him a chance to try and pick apart the secondary playing without a net.
He has only had three 300 yard games so far this season with all three of those coming in Steeler victories.
Defense: Tyrone Carter
How big of a difference will the Pittsburgh defense be without the services of Troy Polamalu? The answer to that question lies with one man: Carter.
Last week the defense held against Cincinnati after they lost Polamalu, but it’s a whole different situation to know leading up to the game that you will be without your leader than being forced to step up at a moments notice. The Pittsburgh unit is certainly more than one man, but if Carter has a subpar game, it will go a long way toward giving Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and the rest of the Chiefs offense a chance to bust open a big play or two.
Special Teams: Jeff Reed
The Steelers biggest weakness this year has been their coverage on kicks. Fans and media members alike have laid a lot of that blame at Reed. And it’s not because of where his kicks have landed, but rather his pursuit and tackling of the returner. Seriously.
Kickers aren’t paid to tackle, but I do think the idea of his lack of tackling ability might just be getting into his head. Keep an eye on Reed as he heads down the field. Not because I think he’ll light someone up, but if he does decide to try he just could knock himself out of the game. If the Chiefs can play another close game, an amped up opposing kicker working on his tackling can only help matters.