The Pittsburgh Steelers travel out to the Show Me State this weekend to take a gander at the new look Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately for long-suffering Chiefs fans, what they’ll see is more of the same losing football they’ve seen for more than a decade. KC is a text book example of how not to run a franchise. Unless you’re trying to run it into the ground. The Chiefs have won exactly four of their past thirty four games and that trend doesn’t look like it’s about to reverse itself anytime soon.
Let’s start as we always do with the offensive side of the ball. Their best weapon was TE Tony Gonzalez. He was traded during the offseason because he wanted to play for a winner. Then there is Larry Johnson. Johnson put up incredible numbers for the Chiefs (on an incredible amount of carries) in two consecutive seasons. He also displayed an O.J. Simpson-esque touch with the ladies as he was arrested on four separate occasions, all of them involving violence against women. KC rewarded this misogynist with a 6 year $45 million contract. Only after insulting his head coach on Twitter was he finally released a couple weeks back, eventually finding a new home with every criminal’s favorite hideout, the Bengals.
Although those players are gone, there are still plenty of mistakes on the team. Following a season when he played exactly one month of decent football, the Chiefs traded for Patriots backup Matt Cassel. Before taking a single snap, they rewarded Cassel with a 6 year $63 million deal. Geniuses. Of course, the only remotely decent WR he has to throw to is Dwayne Bowe. But Bowe will not play this Sunday because he’s sitting out a four game suspension for steroid use. Todd Haley coached a high-powered Cardinals offense all the way to the Super Bowl last season but he’d have to be Miracle Max to improve on the 18 points per game average the team had last year.
For the Steelers, it appears to be all systems go on the offensive side of the ball. Bruce Arians allegedly plans to rein in his Flying Circus in favor of a more balanced attack. I’ll believe that when I see it. Still, a heavy dose of Rashard Mendenhall would be exactly what this team needs to get back on a winning track. Especially since KC is ranked down near the bottom of the league in rush defense.
Which brings us to yet more bad news for the Chiefs. Only 0-16 Detroit gave up more yardage last year as KC set a new record for futility by recording a total of only 10 sacks. This year they’ve switched over to a 3-4 and used their first two draft picks on stud defensive prospects, Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee. They also took on more Patriots garbage by taking ancient LB (and former Steeler) Mike Vrabel in the Cassel trade and signing the equally ancient Zach Thomas away from the Cowboys. With no pass rush, the secondary got picked on last year and yet it’s probably the strength of this unit.
For the Steelers, there are injuries aplenty to worry about. Troy Polamalu remains “questionable” but is definitely not playing Sunday. Look, if we can’t beat the Chiefs without Troy, just forfeit the rest of the season because we’re done. In other injury news, Travis Kirschke‘s sprained calf is now torn because Mike Tomlin is a filthy liar. He did try some individual drills this week but evidently he’s still a few weeks away. Shockingly, I’m okay with his absence because his backup (or the backup to the backup if you’re keeping score), Nick Eason, has done a fairly solid job. Last year, the Steelers D sacked Cassel seven times as they dazed and confused him all afternoon. While he’s now a year more experienced, I still expect James Harrison and company to be after him like a school of sharks tasting blood in the water.
Although they say “Any Given Sunday” for a very legitimate reason, this weekend should be little more than a tune-up. I expect a professional, tidy effort from the Steelers in taking care of business like good teams do when they play the dregs of the NFL. Get in, get your win, and get out without anybody getting hurt. Next week we have the first of two games against the Ratbirds which may very well decide our season. No time like the present to start playing winning football.
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