The Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) and Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) meet on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, with particular focus on who will be starting at quarterback for Pittsburgh.
Ben Roethlisberger, who has been sidelined for the past three games with an MCL sprain, is not expected to start despite competing in practice this week. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley told reporters that the Steelers will turn to Landry Jones, who at age 26 will be making his first career start. But Roethlisberger has not been officially ruled out, and the 33-year-old has already progressed faster than expected.
"I think it's prudent and appropriate right now to operate under the assumption that Landry is our quarterback this week," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "He is the guy that's healthy."
While the offense didn’t click the same way with Michael Vick under center, there were positives in Jones' professional debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The former Oklahoma Sooner, who joined Pittsburgh in 2013 as a fourth-round draft pick, completed eight of his 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers' 25-13 victory.
Jones will face a Chiefs defense that allows 372.8 yards per game, but limited the Minnesota Vikings to just 321 total yards on Sunday in a 16-10 loss. Kansas City intercepted Teddy Bridgewater twice and the young quarterback failed to find his rhythm for most of the game. The Chiefs defense also contained Adrian Peterson, limiting the six-time Pro Bowler to just 2.3 yards per carry.
But the offense is the big question mark for the Chiefs. In the last three games, Kansas City has scored just two touchdowns. Head coach Andy Reid admits that the team's struggles fall on his shoulders.
"Well, we're sitting here and we're 1-5. That's real. And we're not playing very well as a football team," Reid said. "As a coach, you're a problem solver, and I have to solve the problems and get that done quick here."
Without star running back Jamaal Charles (knee) and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (concussion), quarterback Alex Smith may have a long day ahead of him against the Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers are No. 6 in the NFL in rushing defense (93.3 yards per game) and No. 5 in points allowed (18.0). Pittsburgh’s pass defense has been inconsistent, but Smith may need big production from Travis Kelce, Albert Wilson, Jason Avant and De’Anthony Thomas, and a stronger effort from the run game. The Chiefs rushed for a total of just 57 yards on 18 carries against the Vikings.
Start Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Betting Odds: Steelers -2 (vegasinsider.com)
Over/Under: 45.5 points
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket