NFL AFC Wild Card Preview | Can Mike Tomlin And Pittsburgh Stop Patrick Mahomes And Shock The World?

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Saturday will begin a three-day stretch of NFL Super Wild Card Weekend. For the first time in league history, there will be a playoff game on Monday night.

Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City (Sunday, 8:15 p.m. on NBC)

The Steelers travel to the heavily favored Chiefs. These two teams played a couple of weeks ago with the Chiefs winning in a laugher (36-10). K.C. dominated from the onset and led 30-0 before the Steelers got on the board. KC was without Travis Kelce (COVID protocol), and the Steelers made a concerted effort to limit Tyreek Hill. That opened up the door for Byron Pringle, who went for a team-high six receptions, 75 yards and two touchdowns.

Patrick Mahomes raved about Pringle’s play in the postgame presser.

“He plays really hard. At the end of the day, I think he just goes out and there and puts it all out there. He does his job and knows his role in the offense. Whenever he needs to make a play, it seems like he makes plays.”

The Steel Curtain had an 8 percent chance of making the playoffs going into last weekend. But thanks to their overtime win over the archrival Ravens, a Jaguars win over the Colts, and a Raiders win over the Chargers, Steeler Nation is here.

Ben Roethlisberger will play at least one more game, but his 168 yards passing per game over the past four weeks won’t cut it. A shoddy offensive line that ranks at the bottom of the league in pass block win rate facing a Chiefs team that ranks in the top 10 in pass rush win rate doesn’t bode well for the Steelers. Chris Jones (65 pressures and 10 sacks), Frank Clark (46 pressures) and the savvy veteran Melvin Ingram lead a K.C. defense built for success.

The Steelers need to counter with a heavy dose of rookie running back Najee Harris, as he’s the only hope so this game can be close.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Steelers 17

Buffalo vs. New England (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. on CBS)

It’s the rubber match after the Patriots won 14-10 at Buffalo, throwing the ball three times the entire game as the wind swirled. Three weeks later in Foxborough, Josh Allen was money as the Bills didn’t punt all game and won 33-21. New England has surrendered just 140 yards passing since Week 9.

That one poor performance was against the Bills a few weeks ago as Allen passed for 314 yards. The Bills are the better team, so the expectation is they get the win at home in front of their rabid fan base, “Bills Mafia.”

In an interview with the “Greg Hill Show,” Belichick says Bills-Patriots III doesn’t offer “any big advantage.”

“We make some good plays and do some good things, and then undo it with something. So obviously got to coach better to get some more consistency and execute it better when we get the opportunity to do it.”

Prediction: Bills 24, Patriots 17

Cincinnati vs. Las Vegas (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. on NBC)

The Bengals have a three-headed monster at wide receiver in soon-to-be-named Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase (1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns). Tee Higgins (1,091 yards) and Tyler Boyd (828 yards) are other potent threats receiving passes from rising star Joe Burrow (4,614 yards and 34 touchdowns).

Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson talked via zoom about his team’s trio of receivers heading into Saturday’s playoff game.

“I refer to them as the three-headed monster. You try to take one of them away. Then we still got two others.”

The Raiders secondary has been torched all season by elite QBs. In four games versus the Chiefs and Chargers, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert passed for a combined 1,229 yards and 13 touchdowns against the Raiders.

The Cincinnati Bengals won the earlier-season matchup 32-13 behind 123 yards rushing by Joe Mixon. All signs point to Burrow having a huge day. It’s going to take a huge effort on the ground by Josh Jacobs for the Raiders to shorten the game enough to limit the Bengals’ possessions.

Prediction: Bengals 34, Raiders 24


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