This week the Steelers have their 2018 home opener as they host the Kansas City Chiefs. These two teams are coming off opposite weeks. While the Steelers showed a tough defense and an inconsistent offense in week 1, the Chiefs had an offense firing on all cylinders meanwhile having a defense with some big holes. We've seen some great games between these teams in recent years and this week should be no different.
Football is a team sport, but given the matchups we'll be seeing this week some players will be in a position to have a huge impact. Here are 5 players to watch when the Steelers face the Chiefs.
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT- QB) & Patrick Mahomes (KC - QB)
This is sort of cheating but I don't care: it makes more sense to just lump these two together. This week’s game has serious potential to become a shootout, and a lot of the outcome will lie with the performance of each of these quarterbacks. Both are gunslingers, both can escape the pocket, and both excel when the pressure is coming.
The winner of this game will likely be determined by which team can contain the other quarterback, and which quarterback makes the biggest plays. While we didn't see as many big plays from Ben Roethlisberger versus the Browns as we are used to, a home game versus a legit opponent is just what Ben needs to get back to business.
Sean Davis (PIT - FS)
Sean Davis showed a lot of promise during his first start as the Steelers free safety. He did a great job especially at closing in on passes and hitting hard without using his helmet. While Davis impressed, he will get his first real test this week versus Patrick Mahomes.
Unlike Tyrod Taylor, Mahomes is a gun-slinger and can toss the ball all over the field. This will be our first opportunity to really see how Davis can perform as a center fielder. Given the variety of weapons the Chiefs have, Davis is going to play a key role in neutralizing their passing attack.
Bud Dupree (PIT - EDGE)
I'm sure most can remember vividly all of the times James Harrison destroy Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. These plays often played a large role in Steeler victories, and this week, Bud Dupree will get a shot at replicating what Harrison did. Fisher is one of the weakest links on the Chiefs offense line and it's an opportunity Dupree needs to take advantage of in order to show he really can be a pass rusher and not just an athlete.
With TJ Watt facing the very talented right tackle Mitchell Schwartz this week, it may be up to Dupree to provide pressure off the edge. Along with pressure, Dupree will need to be focused on containing Mahomes and not letting him extend plays with his legs.
Justin Houston (KC - EDGE)
While he was quiet in week 1, it would be unwise to sleep on Justin Houston. There are people saying age & injuries have slowed him down, but this is a player who had 22 sacks in 2014, and more recently 9.5 sacks in 2017. We all saw how impactful a pass rush can be in week 1. Myles Garret gave Ben fits all game, and even smaller named players like Genard Avery had a big impact.
At his best, Ben excels under pressure, but that doesn't lessen the importance to prevent it. Having a game plan to neutralize the Chiefs pass rush, including Justin Houston, will be vital for this offense to put up points.
Sammy Watkins (KC - WR)
While a lot of people are going to be focusing on the Steelers stopping Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt (all for good reason) one weapon that cannot be overlooked is Sammy Watkins. The wide receiver was paid a lot of money this season to be a weapon opposite of Hill, and while he's yet to make a big splash, all the potential is there for Watkins to give teams headaches.
I may be naive, but because the Steelers have done such a good job neutralizing Hill in the past (5 catches for 34 yards in 2017) I'm not overly worried about him. This is why I have a feeling that Watkins could sneakily be a guy to play a huge impact for the Chiefs this week.