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Steelers vs. Chiefs Wild Card Weekend Picks: Can Pittsburgh Slow Down Kansas City's Offense?

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Steelers vs. Chiefs Wild Card Weekend Picks: Can Pittsburgh Slow Down Kansas City's Offense?
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce celebrates after scoring touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images via AFP.

The Wild Card matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs could be Ben Roethlisberger’s last NFL game, as the latter are the biggest favorites of any playoff team this week. We break down all the betting angles with our Steelers-Chiefs picks.

The Steelers needed a lot of things to break their way in Week 18 to end up as one of the AFC’s Wild Card teams. Pittsburgh beat the Ravens, the Colts shockingly lost to the Jaguars, and Raiders-Chargers just barely escaped finishing as a tie.

Kansas City was the biggest preseason favorite of any team to win its division, cashing futures tickets of -275. It wasn’t easy to get there: the Chiefs started 3-4 but finished by winning nine of their final 10 games. With their Week 18 victory over the Broncos, Andy Reid became the fifth coach in NFL history to win 250 games.

Oddsmakers love the Chiefs’ chances of getting back to a third straight Super Bowl. Their +175 odds to win the conference are better than the Titans’ +330 despite having to play one extra game to get there.

Here are my picks and predictions for the matchup between the Steelers and Chiefs (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Steelers vs. Chiefs Game Info

Date/Time: Sunday, Jan. 16, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Weather: 35 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation, 7-mph winds

Steelers vs. Chiefs Odds Analysis

Kansas City opened as a -13.5 point road favorite but has since been bet down to -12.5, which can be found at most sportsbooks. Seventy-three percent of the tickets and 82% of the cash is on the Chiefs to cover.

The total has been bet down from 48 to 46.5, though several sportsbooks have the number at 46. Fifty-nine percent of the tickets have backed the Over but 57% of the cash is behind the Under.

Steelers Betting Preview

Record: 9-7-1 straight-up, 8-9 against the spread, 6-11 Over/Under
Key Players: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Najee Harris, OLB T.J. Watt, DT Cameron Heyward
Notable Trend: Steelers are 2-6-2 ATS in their last 10 playoff games

By finishing at 9-7-1, Roethlisberger extended his streak to 18 consecutive seasons in which his team didn't finish with a losing record. Pittsburgh is 4-4 ATS as a road underdog, including outright wins against the Bills, Browns, and Ravens. The Steelers were one of two teams to make the playoffs with a negative score differential (minus-55).

In the end, the Steelers overcame long odds to make the playoffs. They were +160 to earn a playoff berth and projected to finish third in the AFC North before the season started.

Chiefs Betting Preview

Record: 12-5 SU, 8-9 ATS, 10-7 O/U
Key Players: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, LT Orlando Brown, S Tyrann Mathieu, DT Chris Jones
Notable Trend: Chiefs are 13-0 SU in their last 13 when favored by at least seven points

Kansas City started the season as one of the least profitable ATS teams, covering the spread in just two of its first nine games. However, the Chiefs ended the regular season covering six of their final nine games, and they cashed the Over six times in that span.

Reid is 7-6 in the playoffs as the Chiefs head coach. His 17 postseason victories are the fourth-most in NFL history.

Steelers vs. Chiefs Picks

Steelers +12.5 (-110) ★★
Under 46.5 (-110) ★★★
Kansas City team total Under 3.5 touchdowns (-135) ★★★★
Time of first score: on or after 6:00 (-115) ★★★
Chiefs Moneyline + Travis Kelce anytime TD scorer + Steelers +13.5 first-half spread (+165) ★★

SEE ALSO: Early NFL Odds, Lines, and Picks for Wild Card Weekend

Steelers vs. Chiefs Predictions

Steelers +12.5 (-110)

Roethlisberger is no stranger to the playoffs. This will be his 23rd playoff start, tying Joe Montana for the fourth-most all time. He'll make the most of what could be his last NFL game, and we don't expect him to go out with a dud.

Pittsburgh will benefit from having played Kansas City just three weeks ago. Mahomes is 15-3 against teams he's faced just once in his career, but opponents are more successful against him and the Chiefs' offense after that first meeting. I expect Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin to make the necessary adjustments to keep the game closer this time around.

Under 46.5 (-110)

Pittsburgh has had a game top this number just once in its last five contests. The outlier was a 36-28 loss to the Vikings, in which the teams combined to score 28 points in the fourth quarter with the Steelers down 29-7.

The Steelers will do everything they can to make this game ugly. Defensively, they'll try to force Kansas City to be patient and drive methodically down the field without too many chunk plays. That will lead to longer drives and fewer possessions.

Kansas City team total Under 3.5 touchdowns (-135)

The first two ATS and totals wagers of our Steelers-Chiefs picks come with the expectation that the former's defense will play well, so we're doubling down with this team prop play.

Mahomes has a 17:4 touchdown to interception rate in his eight postseason games, which is about two touchdowns per contest. If he matches that, the Chiefs will need to run for two more touchdowns or score on special teams to go Over this number. If you don't see that happening, this is a creative way to back Pittsburgh's defense without making a point spread or total bet.

Time of first score - on or after 6:00 (-115)

In layman's terms, we're betting on the score to be 0-0 when the game's first six minutes have elapsed. This bet would get a huge boost if the Steelers get the ball first, since their offense is not nearly as explosive.

We expect Tomlin's team will want to receive rather than risk facing an early deficit in a raucous away game. But even if the Chiefs start with the ball, Pittsburgh's defense should, at worst, force a long drive.

Chiefs ML + Kelce anytime TD scorer + Steelers +13.5 first-half spread (+165)

Since we don't expect the Steelers to get blown out early but anticipate a Chiefs win, the first and third leg of this make sense. If we left the bet at the first two legs, the payout is -120, so adding Pittsburgh's first-half spread is worth the extra value to bring this to +165.

The key to this hitting is Kelce scoring a touchdown. With running backs Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire's statuses up in the air, the Chiefs are more likely to rely on Mahomes in the red zone. Kelce has scored four touchdowns in his last three games, and he'll build on that momentum by finding the endzone in this game.

SEE ALSO: All picks and odds. Be sure to check out SportsbookReview.com's community forums and betting tools.

Steelers-Chiefs picks made on 1/12/2021 at 9:43 a.m. ET.