We are sure that ESPN had good intentions when scheduling the red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers to host the 1-7 Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football this week. After all, who knew that after eight games, the Chiefs would still not have played with a lead yet in any game this season! That’s right, even in the game they won, the Chiefs never led until the game-winning field goal in overtime vs. the Saints.
The Steelers have won three straight games with the running game finally clicking. As you might expect, Pittsburgh is a prohibitive -12½ favorite with the total set at 42.
1. Why Pittsburgh will cover the spread: Pittsburgh will cover the spread if its run defense stops Jamaal Charles. Charles is basically the best part of the Kansas City offense right now and the Chefs should have a very difficult time scoring if they cannot get him involved, unless it is via garbage points toward the end of the game while facing a large deficit. A second key for a Pittsburgh cover is not looking past the Chiefs, which would be very easy to do given Kansas City’s ineptness this year and the Steelers having three straight division games including two vs. the Baltimore Ravens coming up next.
2. Why Kansas City will cover the spread: Other than getting Charles going and actually getting a lead at one point in the game, another key to a Kansas City cover is Matt Cassel having an effective passing game. Cassel actually was not terrible in a 31-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers last Thursday, completing 19-of-29 passes for 181 yards. If he can get that over 200 yards here, then the Chiefs would have a chance to stay inside this big number, especially since the Steelers having to pay attention to the pass could open us some running lanes for Charles. Yet another key for the Chiefs is slowing down a Pittsburgh running game that is averaging 155.0 rushing yards on a whopping 5.1 yards per carry over the last three games.
3. Total Talk: That is a lot of keys for Kansas City, isn’t it? Considering that the Chiefs probably need to accomplish all of them to cover and we think that there is a very realistic chance that they won’t accomplish any of them, we are looking for a Pittsburgh romp here. Just about the only legitimate threat to a Steelers’ blowout is the look-ahead factor, especially with the Ravens up next. Still, the Chiefs have looked so awful that the Steelers could probably sleepwalk their way to a win by at least two touchdowns. We think that the total is tricky here though as a late meaningless Chiefs’ score could make the difference, so we recommend passing.
4. Betting Trends for STEELERS/CHIEFS: The home teams are 4-0 ATS in the last four head-to-head meetings and the ‘over’ is 4-1 in the last five meetings. The ‘over’ is 20-8 in the Steelers’ last 28 games after allowing less than 250 total yards in their previous game. Pittsburgh is also 10-4 ATS in its last 14 home games.
Pittsburgh 31 – Kansas City 14