Chiefs-Steelers: 3 matchups to watch in AFC Wildcard round


On paper, the Chiefs have the easiest matchup of any team that's playing in the Wild Card round this weekend. Almost two-touchdown favorites, the Chiefs are still less than a month removed from beating this same Steelers team by 26 on Christmas weekend. The playoffs are obviously a different beast entirely, but still -- Kansas City's a much better football team. Here are the three matchups they'll want to win if they're going to prove that again on Sunday night:

Andrew Wylie vs. TJ Watt
If for the some reason the game goes off the rails on Sunday, the bet here it's because the Chiefs are lining up their third string right tackle against the soon-to-be NFL Defensive Player of the Year. It's not even that Wylie's not up to the challenge, it's just that Watt is that good. Surely the Chiefs won't leave Wylie on an island against Watt all day -- rookie right guard Trey Smith is in for quite the playoff debut as well, I'd imagine. If the Chiefs can find a way to block functionally while keeping multiple guys on Watt for most of the game, a 26-point win sounds about right.

Creed Humphrey vs. Cameron Heyward
*Extremely nerdy voice* This is about as elite a one-on-one matchup as we're going to watch in any game this weekend. You may be aware that Creed Humphrey has had a good season, and Heyward's having one of the best seasons (his 11 sacks is tied for second-best) of his already-illustrious career. According to Pro Football Focus, Humphrey's the #1 center in football, and Heyward is the #2 interior defensive lineup. Again, *extremely nerdy voice* elite matchup, etc. Get ready for between 6-8 clichés about the trenches.

Charvarius Ward & L'Jarius Sneed vs. Ben Roethlisberger
Ultimately, if the Chiefs can secondary can make some plays on Big Ben early, none of the other stuff will really matter. Roethlisberger is, to put it kindly, not good anymore. Teams that turn the ball over generally lose football games, and it's hard to see Pittsburgh keeping up if the Chiefs can steal a couple possessions early. And by then, everyone will have already watched so much football -- and will still have more football to watch on Monday -- so maybe a breather of a game wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

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