Key matchup: Chiefs pass defense vs. Steelers passing game

Mike Wilkening
Steelers restructure Roethlisberger's contract

How the Chiefs cope with the Steelers' potent passing game will be a story line to watch on Monday night. We take a closer look:

Chiefs pass defense vs. Steelers passing game

The Chiefs' secondary plans haven't panned out as Kansas City had hoped.

In the offseason, the Chiefs replaced CB Brandon Carr, who signed with Dallas, with ex-Raider Stanford Routt. The hope was Routt would be an able replacement for Carr, and at a lesser cost. 

The decision backfired. Carr has played at a high level for Dallas, and Routt was released after seven starts.

Carr's departure also split up one of the NFL's better CB tandems. In Carr and Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs had a strong duo at a key position. 

With Routt gone, Flowers and third-year pro Javier Arenas are the starters. Flowers, who has a pair of interceptions this season, is widely respected, and the Steelers might tread carefully with him at times.

Arenas, who's set to make his fifth career start Monday, might get tested a little more.

"Arenas is a guy that we liked in the draft," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week. "He is a very aware, tough and instinctual football player."

The Steelers are likely to be without Antonio Brown (ankle) in Week 10, but they still have a WR corps that's capable of giving Kansas City trouble. Speedy Mike Wallace (39-525-5) is the top threat, but Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery also must be respected.

Even with Brown out, the Steelers look to have the advantage in obvious passing situations. The Chiefs are allowing 8.9 yards per pass, more than any other team. Should the Steelers spread the field, QB Ben Roethlisberger is likely to find a matchup or two to his liking.

The Chiefs had many problems against San Diego's passing game in Week Nine. Chargers QB Phiiip Rivers attempted just 20 passes against the Chiefs, but he completed 18, racking up 220 yards and two TDs. Reserve S Travis Daniels, who played nearly half of the snaps for Kansas City, especially struggled in coverage.

The Chiefs' pass rush could be key to their upset hopes. OLBs Justin Houston (six sacks) and Tamba Hali (five) are their top pressure threats. However, Roethlisberger is outstanding in dealing with the rush.

In short, the Chiefs face many challenges from the Steelers' passing attack.