The Pittsburgh Steelers learned of their fate at the close of Sunday’s regular-season finale following the Las Vegas Raiders’ victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Las Vegas’ 35-32 win on Sunday Night Football ensured the Pittsburgh Steelers would advance into the playoffs as the No.7 seed.
Taking a backdoor entrance into the postseason has earned Pittsburgh the toughest possible matchup in the first round: a date with the Kansas City Chiefs, who’ve only ever known AFC Championship (or better) results in the Patrick Mahomes era.
In no uncertain terms, continuing the dream will be a tough ask for the Steelers. So, it should come as no surprise to NFL betting fans that the AFC Wild Card showdown between the Steelers and Chiefs is tipped with the hosts unanimously across online sports betting platforms.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 16, 2022 – 8:15 PM EST at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Steelers vs. Chiefs NFL Odds and Lines
Markets went to press with Kansas City at -13 and the game total at 47.5 points. Some shops are still showing the Chiefs at -13 while others have come down to Chiefs at -12.5 since open doors. Similarly, the game total has experienced movement on the NFL odds board with the line dropping down to 46.5 points with several top-rated sportsbooks.
Steelers Edge Ravens
The Steelers capped off a topsy-turvy 2021 campaign with a hard-fought 16-13 win over division rivals Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but they had to wait until the day’s conclusion to learn whether they’d done enough to book a spot in the postseason.
The Steelers needed a Raiders win to advance into the postseason – a Chargers win or a tie between the AFC West rivals would have knocked Pittsburgh out. And to be fair, until the very last minute of the game, it looked very much like the Raiders and the Chargers would indeed settle on a tie until the Raiders moved into field goal range and booted their foes out of contention.
It’s almost fitting things transpired as they did on Sunday Night Football, with the Raiders winning a wild and dramatic showdown with the Chargers in overtime. Ben Roethlisberger is rumored to be considering his retirement in the postseason. Whether that happens remains to be seen. For now, thanks to Derek Carr and company, Big Ben gets (at least) one last hurrah in the playoffs.
Chiefs Edge Broncos
The Chiefs finished their season with a narrow 28-24 win over division rivals the Denver Broncos at Mile High on Sunday. It was a moral victory of sorts after the Chiefs bowed out of the race for the AFC top seed following a shocking loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17.
The Bengals stunned the Chiefs in a 34-31 win at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, coming through with the upset win as the 3.5-point road underdogs for NFL picks. Had the Chiefs won that game, they would have still had to win the following week and hope the Titans lost to clinch the No.1 seed (Titans had the tiebreaker after beating the Chiefs earlier in the season).
All told, the Chiefs bounced back with a win over Denver and clinched the No.2 seed. Consider the last time the Chiefs were the No.2 seed in the AFC playoffs, they won Super Bowl 54!
Key Betting Trends
The Chiefs finished with a 12-5-0 SU record, but they went 8-9-0 ATS with a 6.8 winning margin on average and a +0.6 differential versus the spread. As home favorites, the Chiefs went 4-5-0 ATS with an 8.6 winning margin on average and a +1.5 differential versus the spread.
Conversely, the Steelers went 9-7-1 SU and 8-9-0 ATS with a 3.2 losing margin on average and a -1.9 differential versus the spread. As road underdogs, the Steelers went 4-4-0 ATS with an 8-point losing margin on average and a -2.4 differential versus the spread. The over cashed in 10 of Kansas City’s 17 games while the under cashed in 10 of Pittsburgh’s 17 games.
NFL Predictions and Picks
As it so happens, the Steelers and Chiefs served up a preview of this AFC Wild Card showdown in Week 16, though few would have predicted it as such. Kansas City won that contest quite convincingly, beating the Steelers 36-10 to come through as the 10-point home chalk.
Those that appreciate the significance of this game to Big Ben’s legacy are likely to take a more sentimental stance. The ideal scenario would be a more competitive game in which the Steelers would give the Chiefs a run for their money. It would be so fitting for the veteran signal-caller – if this is indeed his swansong – to go out in a blaze of glory.
By all accounts, the Chiefs are the smart bet to win and, even, potentially to cover as the double-digit home chalk. Roethlisberger himself implied as much when he waxed lyrical about Kansas City as the AFC standard since Mahomes burst onto the scene in 2018.
And yet, the sentimental bet is Steelers at +12.5 (-110). Perhaps, having played the Chiefs a few weeks ago will provide the catalyst for a better performance by Pittsburgh this time around.
NFL Pick: Steelers +12.5 (-110) with Bet365