The Steelers could be undervalued after a disappointing opener in Cleveland, while Kansas City's big plays masked their shaky defence, says Mark Kirwan as he previews the Sunday 6pm clash...
"Their defence will cost them games this year. It should've cost them last week but the Chargers receivers felt generous. Antonio Brown does not do charity, and will be itching to get at this dubious secondary."
Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, 18:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Action
Chiefs defence an Achilles heel
There are always plenty of people ready to dump all over the NFL for all number of things - some justified, some not - but the reason the league is able to skate over complaints is simple: the quality of its product. There's no better example of this than a week two regular season game as appetising as this game.
The Chiefs were +3.5 underdogs at the Chargers last week. Taking them with the points was one of the sharpest punts of week one given Andy Reid has had months of prep-time for the game. KC handled the road trip comfortably, making it nine straight wins over their divisional rival.
The win came on the back of Tyreek Hill, a wide receiver who should be the first result on google when you "playmaker". He had two touchdowns from seven catches and totalled 169 yards as second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes assumed starting responsibilies following Alex Smith's trade to Washington.
But the Chiefs were always expected to be offensive powerhouse this season. Mahomes may be an upgrade on Smith, who enjoyed a league-leading start to last year. They've added Sammy Watkins, they've got Hill, Kareem Hunt has a year of experience, Spencer Ware backs him up, Travis Kelce can make plays. They're loaded.
The problem for KC is their defence. They gave up huge plays throughout 2017. Eric Berry's injury was huge, and he's back, but they've lost Marcus Peters to the Rams, as good a cornerback as any in the league.
Though they won last week, they were caught several times deep by LA receivers, who then could not catch the ball themselves when in perfect position to make crucial plays. Tyrell Williams literally dropped a TD, Travis Benjamin would've likely had another.
Running back Melvin Gordon had 166 total yards on 24 touches, making this a game the Chargers lost as much as the Chiefs won.
Cleveland tie a wake-up call
The Steelers endured a more testing affair in Cleveland's rain, where Chris Boswell could've kicked an OT field goal to win it, but so could Zane Gonzalez for the Browns.
In Pittsburgh's defence, the Browns D look a tougher unit this year, with Denzel Ward - fourth overall pick - drifting under the radar due to the offensive talent taken around him in the draft, and Myles Garrett looking every inch the number one selection the front office will have wanted him to be.
The Steelers were also with Le'Veon Bell, and it looks like his contract holdout could continue til Halloween or longer. Scary as that may sound, his absence wasn't the horror show some may have expected because of second-year running back James Conner, who collected over 100 yards on the ground and in the air and looks as though he could be the long-term heir to likely free agent Bell in 2019.
Ben Roethlisberger did toss three picks, a worrying start to a season that looks like a make-or-break year for this iteration of the black-and-gold.
But the Steelers have been here before. If there's a question mark about them, it's usually motivation rather than ability. Tying with the Browns is exactly the kind of result that should rev them up for this game. Being at home helps as well, and they've the playmakers to exploit KC's major deficiency.
Steelers can cover handicap in high scoring game
The Steelers are -4.5 favourites at home this week. They're a different beast in their own stadium against good teams - the tendency of this team to play down to their opposition's level makes them an awful proposition for punters week-to-week - and Kansas are a playoff from a year ago.
Their defence will cost them games this year. It should've cost them last week but the Chargers receivers felt generous. Antonio Brown does not do charity, and will be itching to get at this dubious secondary.
Last season the Steelers snapped the Chiefs early season winning streak when they needed a win. They need a win now after Cleveland. I think they'll win and can just about cover 4.5 points.
Sophomore QB Mahomes has the weapons to attack too, so the best bet in this game is the Over on the total points line.
1pt on the Pittsburgh Steelers -4.5 on the Handicap market @ [1.93] on the Exchange
1pt on Over 53.5 on the Total Points market @ [1.99] on the Exchange