By Will Strome and Chris Lovi, NFLWeather.com, special to NFP
Very little has gone well for the Kansas City Chiefs this season. And against the Steelers on a rainy, frigid Monday night in Pittsburgh, things won’t turn for the better. NFLWeather.com forecasts lows in the mid-30s with the wind chill will dipping down to near freezing. On top of that, an 80% chance of showers is expected to fall on Heinz Field’s already worn-out grass surface. Flurries could fall late in the second half but it will be the piercing winds that will cause the problems. Low temperatures, freezing rain, cold hard wind; it all sounds like Steelers weather.
Pittsburgh is a tough town to get a road win, especially when the weather’s crummy. According to the NFLWeather historical analytics, the Steelers (5-3) have won their last three straight rain games and held the opposition to 14 points or less every time. Data that certainly doesn’t bode well for Kansas City (1-7) who lost their last rain game on the road and head into Heinz Field where the hosting Pittsburgh Steelers have won 13 of their last 14 games.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the Steelers were built for bad weather. While the majority of Pittsburgh’s offensive success has been in the air, the weather won’t slow it down their attack. Ben Roethisberger plays well in the rain and has a 2-0 record in the rain this season, completing 46 of 71 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns. More importantly, zero interceptions and zero sacks in a recent 27-12 win over the Washington Redskins.
With another week of banged-up running backs, Big Ben will be expected to carry the offense. Rashard Mendenhall was limited in practice Friday and expects to start once he’s fully healthy, but that won’t be this week. Jonathan Dwyer returns after sitting out against the New York Giants and joins Isaac Redman and Baron Batch in the backfield including Chris Rainey who’s healthy after picking up a minor rib injury last week. Bottom line, if you have Heath Miller on your fantasy team, start him!
The Kansas City Chiefs have used an array of running backs quite well. Ranked third in the league with 149.9 yards on the ground, the Chiefs running game has been the lone bright spot on the team. Jamaal Charles is once again an elite back, when he’s healthy, averaging almost five yards per carry.
Turnovers have killed Kansas City’s chances, costing them a winning record. Ranked first in the NFL with 29 turnovers, the Chiefs are not strong enough to recover from 3-4 giveaways a game. Matt Cassell is responsible for 11 interceptions. He’ll be the full time starter with Brady Quinn not cleared to play following ongoing concussion symptoms.
While the Steelers only have eight takeaways to date, a slippery football in the hands of the team that turns it over the most is a mouth-watering combination. With a defensive unit that is tops in total defense (262.6 ypg) and pass defense (174 ypg), the Steelers will need to concentrate on stuffing the KC ground game.
It’s almost impossible to believe but the Chiefs have done it, they’ve managed to go the entire season, thus far, having never once held a lead during a game. Might this be the week? Even if KC receives the opening kick, it’s highly unlikely.
Rams Sing the Blues as St. Louis Submits to San Francisco
Keep an eye on this Sunday is when the St. Louis Rams travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. At the Southern tip of the Pacific Northwest rain forest, the San Francisco Peninsula will see scattered showers over the weekend. NFLWeather.com has been forecasting a chance of showers all week, with thunderstorms also possible, that is until this morning. Currently, the forecast is for partly cloudy skies and highs of 60 degrees, a perfect day for tailgating.
Both teams are generally known for their defense, but, Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers are known for execution. One important fact to note in this one is that Candlestick Park’s ancient bluegrass surface is below sea level. Mix that with possibility of a little drizzle and this matchup could get slippery. Without a little turnover help from the elements, the Rams are in too deep.
The Rams offense is scattered with young talent but the key to making it all work is quarterback Sam Bradford .If Bradford can complete short passes and keep the sticks moving, the Rams offense can compete. Don’t expect a big day out of any Rams running back. This is not the day to start any Ram in your fantasy football league. The Niners defense continues to act like a rodent trap for opposing running backs. If Jeff Fischer expects to get anything going on offense, he will design routes for receivers Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens to gain yards after the catch.
As for San Francisco, they will look to continue their game plan no matter what weather conditions they face. Establish the run and create opportunities for receivers to get open. However, the Rams defense is underrated and will do their best to pressure Alex Smith. If there is one thing that has been the 49ers Achilles heel, its been going up against a strong defensive line and that is something that the Rams have in bulk.
According to NFLWeather.com’s historical analytics, the Niners are 5-1 versus the Rams over the past three seasons under clear skies or a dome. It’s not often that you see a dome team hope for the sky to fall, but Sunday will be one of those days.