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Chiefs vs. Steelers: 10 Stats to Know

Posted Oct 15, 2017

Here are some stats to know for Sunday’s game against the Steelers, presented by DraftKings

The Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.

It’s a matchup that has pretty much gone the Steelers way recently—with them taking five of the last six contests, including knocking the Chiefs out of the postseason last year with an 18-16 victory in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

But the Steelers, who have dropped two of their last three games, fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 30-9 last week in Pittsburgh. They are 2-1 on the road this year—with wins over the Cleveland Browns (21-18) and Baltimore Ravens (26-9) and falling on the road to the Chicago Bears (23-17).

For the Chiefs, they’re coming off a 42-34 victory over the Houston Texans last Sunday night, which marked their 27th win in their last 31 regular-season games—a stretch that began with a 23-13 win over the Steelers at Arrowhead on October 25, 2015.

But a lot has changed for both teams since that game, and Sunday’s contest—albeit still early in the season—could have ramifications for both teams down the road when it comes to postseason positioning. That’s generally the case when two good teams face one another.

Here are 10 stats to know for Steelers-Chiefs Sunday afternoon:

1. Chiefs’ offense has been explosive

Through five games, the Chiefs lead the NFL by averaging 32.8 points per game, and much of that has to do with the play of quarterback Alex Smith.

2. Smith is leading the NFL in several key categories

Smith leads the league in completion percentage (76.6), yards per attempt (8.80) and passer rating (125.8).

Overall, Smith has thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, which makes for the best ratio in the NFL. He’s also the first quarterback in NFL history to win his first five games of a season while averaging at least 250 yards passing per game, tossing at least 10 touchdown passes and not having thrown an interception.

But Smith, who has thrown 168 consecutive passes without an interception, and the rest of the Chiefs’ passing offense will be challenged this week. That’s what the numbers show.

The Steelers’ pass defense ranks No. 1 in the NFL, allowing an average of just 140 yards per game. They have faced Browns’ rookie Deshone Kizer, the Vikings’ Case Keenum, the Bears’ Mike Glennon, the Ravens’ Joe Flacco and the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles.

As a group, the Steelers’ have picked off five passes and allowed just three touchdowns.

Smith will be the best quarterback they’ve faced this season.

3. Justin Houston has dominated the fourth quarter

4. The Chiefs’ defense continues to be a no-fly zone

The Chiefs’ defense leads the NFL by allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 51.4 percent of passes against them this season.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Chiefs are thriving in this area considering they lead the NFL in this since defensive coordinator Bob Sutton arrived in Kansas City before the 2013 season.

Since that time, the Chiefs have allowed just 57 percent of passes to be completed against them.

And last week against the Jaguars, Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 33 of 55 passes for 312 yards with five interceptions and didn’t toss a single touchdown.

In 190 career games, that’s the most interceptions Roethlisberger has ever thrown in a game. Based on his comments after the game and so far this week, Roethlisberger will be ready to play Sunday against the Chiefs.

5. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt continues to put up numbers

With another 100-yard performance Sunday afternoon against the Steelers, Hunt would become the first player in NFL history to begin their career with six-straight games with at least 100 total yards from scrimmage.

Hunt is currently tied for the record with former Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson, who had five straight in 2007.

Peterson’s running backs coach back then was Eric Bieniemy, who is now coaching Hunt and the Chiefs’ running backs.

On paper, the matchup on Sunday looks good for Hunt and the Chiefs’ rushing attack.

The Steelers’ defense ranks 28th in the NFL by allowing 136 yards rushing per game, and Hunt leads the league with 609 yards rushing in the first five games of his career. He’s averaging 6.3 yards per carry and has seven runs of at least 20 yards this season.  

6. It’s a battle for first-down supremacy

The Chiefs’ offense leads the NFL by averaging 7.70 yards per play on first down.

The Steelers’ defense leads the NFL by keeping opposing offenses to averaging just 3.94 yards per play on first down.

Something has to give.

7. The Steelers are still led by the three B’s

Ben Roethlisberger has completed 62 percent of his passes for an average of 242 yards per game with six touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

And outside of a tough game last week, he’s still shown to be one of the league’s best quarterbacks. He’s considered a “value” play on DraftKings this week.

In the backfield, Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell ranks fifth in the league with 371 yards rushing, and he’s also caught 27 passes for 144 yards. Overall, Bell accounts for 30 percent of the Steelers’ total yards this year.

In his last three games against the Chiefs, Bell has run the ball 65 times for a total of 435 yards, which is a 6.7 yards per carry average.

On the outside, the Steelers have one of the best in the game in receiver Antonio Brown, who has more than twice as many targets as any other receiver on the Steelers’ roster with 64, which leads the NFL.

Through five games, Brown has 40 receptions for a league-leading 545 yards and a touchdown. He’s also tied for the league-lead with eight receptions of at least 20 yards this season. According to DraftKings, Brown is the No. 1-ranked fantasy receiver this week.

8. The Steelers’ defense is getting pressure from everywhere

The Steelers have six players with multiple sacks this year, including their star rookie linebacker T.J. Watt—the brother of the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt, who has three.

Watt was selected in the first round (No. 30 overall) last spring out of Wisconsin, and he has also picked up 19 tackles and an interception this year.

On the inside, the Steelers are led by one of the league’s best young inside linebackers in Ryan Shazier, who is the only player in the NFL with at least 40 tackles, five passes defensed and two interceptions this season. He also has two forced fumbles.

Shazier is a guy who is always around the ball.

9. Chiefs’ offense continues to thrive in key areas

The Chiefs’ offense ranks fifth in the league by converting 46.9 percent of their third-down opportunities, and they rank fourth in the league in red zone efficiency—scoring touchdowns on 64.7 percent of drives that get inside an opponents’ 20-yard line.

Both of those statistics can generally determine whether a team won or lost, along with turnovers and penalty yards.

10. The Chiefs are taking care of the football

The Chiefs’ have only turned it over once this season, which came on the first offensive snap of the season—a Hunt fumble against the New England Patriots.

Furthermore, the Chiefs’ plus-6 turnover differential ranks fourth in the NFL through five weeks.

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