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Chiefs vs. Steelers: Five Things to Watch

The Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) travel to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field

Here are five things to watch during Sunday's game:

1. Containing the all-everything man for the Steelers: Le'Veon Bell


One of the names you're going to hear often on Sunday is Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers second-year running back out of Michigan State who's currently second in the NFL with 1,278 rushing yards.

In his last four games, Bell has rushed for 531 yards and six touchdowns.

"He is a very versatile, graceful running back," Chiefs safety Kurt Coleman said. "He reads his blocks and he's not a guy that is just going to hit a hole. He is going to be patient and allow it to open up and make his one cut."

Bell's versatility doesn't stop with his running ability; he's second on the Steelers with 76 receptions for 765 yards.

"He's got all the physical tools you need and he's got that instinct that's hard to quantify," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "He's a really good player and then he's an excellent athlete out of the backfield as referenced by the number of catches he has."

If the Chiefs are going to win on Sunday, they'll need to limit Bell's impact, particularly in the passing game.

2. Chiefs offense continuing to pick up chunk yards


Over the past two weeks, the Chiefs offense seems to have hit its stride when it comes to big plays.

On the season, the Chiefs have 39 passing plays of 20-plus yards, and 11 of those have come within the last two weeks.

But these plays haven't come from forcing the ball down the field.

"It's always when you get the look you want," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. "Very rarely are you just dropping back and chucking it up, you just don't get that. We're stretching the field, reading the defense and obviously some play calls are more aggressive than others."

As the Chiefs face a Steelers offense that currently leads the NFL by averaging 424 yards per game, the Chiefs might be tasked with keeping up with an explosive Steelers offense.

The Steelers rank 28th in the NFL by allowing 50 rushes of at least 10 yards this season. The Chiefs lead the NFL with four rushing touchdowns of 20-plus yards. Hopefully the Chiefs can find that kind of success on Sunday.

3. Slowing down the NFL's leading receiver, Antonio Brown


Brown leads the NFL in several receiving categories, which includes targets (159), receptions (115), yards (1,498) and first-down receptions (76).

"He's got excellent physical talent and I think he's a really good route runner," Sutton said of Brown. "Again, it's stating the obvious but he has great chemistry with Ben (Roethlisberger), a great trust factor there. You don't get targeted that many times without trust."

The Chiefs defense has yet to allow a 300-yard passer this season, ranking second in the NFL by giving up just 199 yards per game through the air. If the Chiefs can at least slow down Brown, they'll be in a much better spot to pick up their ninth win of the season.

"It is just another element to what we have to be able to match up against," Coleman said of Brown's ability. "I've seen [Brown] go against double coverage and beat them, I've seen him go against single coverage and beat it. He is a handful and so we just have to be able to limit the big plays."

Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith believes Sunday will be the toughest challenge they've faced this season.

"I definitely believe this is going to be the toughest task for the secondary," Smith said. "I think the biggest thing that separates [the Steelers] is how much speed they have. We play so much man coverage that we can't afford to slip or make any mistakes because the separation they can gain from that will be ridiculous."

The Steelers rank second in the NFL with 222 offensive plays that gained at least 10 yards, while the Chiefs defense has allowed just 181, which ranks 12th.

4. When they get to Roethlisberger, bring him down

At 6-foot-5, 241 pounds, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a handful to try and bring to the ground.

He has a knack for escaping the pocket with guys on or around him and making plays down the field.

"When they have that many playmakers at the wide receiver position and a quarterback who can stand up and take hits and still chuck the ball 50 yards down the field, we definitely have our hands full," Sean Smith said.

When the Chiefs defense has an opportunity to get to Roethlisberger, it needs to make sure they bring him down.

"[Roethlisberger] is so big and strong," Sutton said. "You can be hanging on him and he's got an uncanny ability to be accurate in those situations. I don't know how many times in video you've seen a guy hanging on him and he sidearms it down the field. He's got great vision and really has a tremendous amount of poise in there."

Justin Houston, who currently ranks second in Chiefs history for most sacks in a season with 17, sits just three sacks away from tying Derrick Thomas (1990) for the most ever in one season.

The starting roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers

5. Fourth-quarter domination from both teams this season; something has to give

Both of these teams have found a lot of success in the fourth quarter this season.

The Chiefs defense has only allowed 48 points in the fourth quarter this season, which ranks second in the NFL. The Steelers offense has scored 142 points in the fourth quarter, which ranks as the best in the NFL.

If the game remains close into the fourth quarter, this will be a strength-on-strength situation in a game with plenty of playoff implications in the AFC.


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