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NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs: five players to watch

The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 of the 2021 NFL regular season on Sunday.

Update:
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs: five players to watch
Joe SargentAFP

With three weeks to go in the regular season, 13 teams in the AFC are in with a shout of reaching the playoffs - and Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers has serious implications for the postseason.

If Kansas City win, they’ll secure their sixth straight AFC West division title as long as the Los Angeles Chargers fail to beat the Houston Texans. Meanwhile, a victory for Pittsburgh would lift the Steelers into a playoff position, if the New England Patriots win at the Buffalo Bills.

These are the players who could well have a major say on the outcome of the game at Arrowhead Stadium:

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs

The Chiefs were handed a Christmas miracle when they activated Tyreek Hill off the covid-19 list and, in the process, recovered their top offensive asset. With ‘Cheetah’ available, Kansas City will have the league’s fifth-most prolific wide receiver in terms of yards (1,178) and fourth-best for touchdowns (nine).

Tyreek Hill catches a pass in the Kansas City Chiefs' 34-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15.
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Tyreek Hill catches a pass in the Kansas City Chiefs' 34-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15.Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports

T.J. Watts, LB, Steelers

Watt leads the NFL on sacks (17.5) and, as well as beating the Steelers’ franchise record for a single season (surpassing James Harrison’s total of 16 in 2008), he has his sights set on the league record (Michael Strahan’s 22.5). However, Watt faces a tough test against the Chiefs, as Kansas City are the fourth-least-sacked team in the NFL this year.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs

The Steelers have the NFL’s second-worst ground defence this season, and that could mean Clyde Edwards-Helaire having an important role to play in the Chiefs’ offence. That said, Kansas City’s strength isn’t their ground offence (109.9 yards per game) and the 22-year-old has only managed more than 100 yards in two matches in 2021.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers

The Chiefs’ defence is porous when it comes to preventing aerial offences (250.9 yards per game) and that could give opportunities to Ben Roethlisberger to find Diontae Johnson. Without JuJu Smith-Schuster, the third-year wide receiver has established himself as the Steelers’ best aerial target. He leads the way for the team with 1,028 yards.

Charvarius Ward, CB, Chiefs

Rashad Fenton is unavailable due to covid-19 and this means Charvarius Ward will have a lot of work on his hands. His chief task will be to stop Johnson, the Steelers’ best WR in 2021.

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