The Steelers are in the playoffs but still do not know their matchup. It could be three teams. In the event of a Bills loss, they would head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs. Should the Dolphins lose, Pittsburgh will head to Buffalo. And lastly, in the chaotic event they tie, the Steelers will head to Miami. All three are on the table and could occur, so it’s about waiting to see who they will get.
But who should they want? Let’s look at all three teams and who the Steelers have the best chance of knocking off.
The Dolphins are by far the unlikeliest matchup. But if the Steelers did draw them, it would probably be the toughest of the three. I think the Bills might be the best team out of all three, but I’m not sure how the Steelers match up against the Dolphins’ speed. I have harped on the lack of speed in this secondary and at the second level all season. The Steelers trying to match Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, Jaylen Waddle, and De’Von Achane just seems hard to imagine.
The Steelers are in the playoffs because they have faced some teams that either have leaky defenses or Pittsburgh can at least match athletically at points. It’s hard to do that here. And yes, the Steelers did slow them down last year, so there could be a gameplan, but there are different pieces here, and without T.J. Watt, that makes it even tougher. As for the Steelers’ offense, Miami’s defense is leaky, and I think Pittsburgh could have a chance to punch through some holes with the injuries. Waddle and Mostert loom as injuries if this game occurs, too. But it just seems like a tough matchup to win given the athleticism on the other side.
The Bills have a few interesting qualities about them. For one, the volatility of Josh Allen makes this game intriguing. If Pittsburgh can get him off the mark, and force a few turnovers, there might be a chance to make a legitimate run here. But they boast athleticism across the board and a tough offense to work against, especially in the middle of the field. Dalton Kincaid would be a nightmare matchup, and while Stefon Diggs has not done much recently, guys like James Cook, Gabe Davis, and Khalil Shakir remain issues.
Defensively, the Bills have found new life with Rasul Douglas. The run defense is just okay, though. It ranks 15th, though the return of DaQuan Jones was a big boost for that unit. It’s a hard game, but there is a formula where you rattle Allen get him off his spot, and force some turnovers. If the Steelers could play ball control and capitalize, they would have a shot here. I just question how they can do that consistently, and without Watt, it makes it much harder to envision.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are having an odd season. For one, they look out of sorts. Patrick Mahomes has not had the connection with his receivers all season that he would like, and only Rashee Rice has stepped up outside of Travis Kelce. For one, the weapons don’t scare the Steelers outside of Kelce, Rice, and Isiah Pacheco. On the other hand, the Steelers in the playoffs against Mahones and Kelce is terrifying, especially when the team gets beat the most in the middle of the field.
In addition, this Kansas City defense is solid. L’Jarius Sneed is playing like one of the best cover cornerbacks in the NFL, and Chris Jones is terrorizing teams up front. But the run defense is leaky. That is what makes this matchup all the more intriguing. If the Raiders could play some ball control, maybe the Steelers could, too.
I have to say, none of these matchups are that enticing without Watt. That’s a huge loss, and even with Markus Golden and Nick Herbig, they have to make these quarterbacks feel them all game. I lean towards the Chiefs being the preferred matchup, even with Mahomes, Kelce, and Andy Reid. There’s a formula that could work the more I envision it. I would not bet them to win that game, but I have an easier time seeing it given the consistent struggles that group has displayed to put up elite performances like they are used to doing.