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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs live
Part of a tight race in the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had a week off to rest and hope a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger – among others – is ready for a crucial stretch run.
The Kansas City Chiefs are going to need an entire offseason to get healthy.
The Steelers don’t expect Roethlisberger’s broken thumb to hinder him in Sunday night’s visit to Arrowhead Stadium, where the bumbling Chiefs hope Tyler Palko’s first home start since taking over for the injured Matt Cassel goes much smoother than his road debut.
Pittsburgh (7-3) bounced back from the disappointment of a 23-20 loss to fellow North heavyweight Baltimore on Nov. 6 with a 24-17 win at Cincinnati on Nov. 13, putting a game’s distance between itself and the division’s third playoff contender.
The news wasn’t all good after that victory, as the Steelers learned Roethlisberger suffered a fractured thumb on his throwing hand.
All in all, though, it appears Pittsburgh caught a break. Chicago’s Jay Cutler suffered a similar but more serious injury last weekend and could miss the rest of the regular season.
Roethlisberger didn’t miss a snap against the Bengals and coach Mike Tomlin expects his franchise signal-caller to be ready to go Sunday night – even if he has to wear a splint under his glove.
“There’s a pain tolerance issue,” Tomlin said. “There’s a comfortability issue. All of those things will be sorted out throughout the course of the week. To be honest with you, I’m not overly concerned about his ability to be effective in the midst of this.”
Roethlisberger has spent much of his time in practice this week working out of shotgun and pistol formations. But he doesn’t believe taking direct snaps from center Maurkice Pouncey will be an issue.
While Pittsburgh has had trouble creating turnovers, Kansas City’s had issues getting to the quarterback despite the presence of Tamba Hali. The Chiefs have a league-low 12 sacks, even with three of Tom Brady on Monday night.
To have a chance at knocking off the Steelers, they’ll likely need to pressure Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh is 12-8 since 2008 when it allows four sacks or more but 28-10 when it surrenders three or fewer.
With Roethlisberger hurting, the Steelers may prefer to make Rashard Mendenhall the focus of the offense. The Chiefs have allowed an average of 153.0 yards rushing in their past five games, fourth-worst in the NFL.
Pittsburgh has won its last three games coming out of a bye by an average of 21.3 points.
Eight of the last nine regular-season meetings in this series have taken place at Arrowhead. Each team has won four of those, with the Steelers outscoring Kansas City 157-156.
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