Red-hot Kansas City Chiefs look to burn Pittsburgh Steelers

AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) - The Kansas City Chiefs are the only unbeaten team in the NFL, but they have plenty to prove in Sunday's home clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chiefs offense, led by quarterback Alex Smith, ranks second in the league with 414 yards per game and the Chiefs lead the league with 6.64 yards per play and 32.9 points per game.

They also boast an explosive defense and perhaps the best special teams units in the NFL -- and a keen desire to avenge last season's bitter playoff loss on their home field to the Steelers, a defeat that is fueling them now.

Smith, for one, has been watching replays of that game at Arrowhead Stadium in preparation for Sunday.

"It definitely brings back a lot of missed opportunities," Smith said. "Certainly, I think we know that we are a different team at this point as well. So you kind of relish the opportunity."

Added running back Charcandrick West: "We're all in a new year, but we all know what happened last year and that's kind of a chip on our shoulder."

The Steelers have won three of their last four meetings between the teams, including that 18-16 heartbreaker in last season's divisional round.

But Pittsburgh arrive in Kansas City reeling from a 30-9 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in which quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions.

Immediately after the game, a frustrated Roethlisberger told reporters "maybe I dont' have it anymore".

But two-time Super Bowl winner Roethlisberger regrouped quickly.

"You wake up Monday morning, and you realize, 'Man, I'm still one of the best in the world (to) do what I do,'" he said. "You have to have that confidence, and that's what I'm going to have."

Chiefs coach Andy Reid certainly isn't banking on the notion that Roethlisberger has lost a step.

"I know we have to play against a heck of a player, a future Hall of Fame player," Reid said.

This weekend's games mark the fourth set of matchups since US President Donald Trump revived controversy over NFL players kneeling during the US national anthem played before games, saying players who make such a protest are insulting the flag, the nation and its soldiers and should be fired.

NFL players, who have steadfastly said they are kneeling to protest racial injustice and social inequality, have not stopped despite the extra pressure. League owners and players union officials will talk on the topic next week during regular league owners meetings in New York.

- Rodgers has Packers rolling -

In other games, The Green Bay Packers seek to continue their dominance of NFC North division rivals when they visit the Minnesota Vikings.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was at his best last Sunday as he rallied Green Bay for an overtime win at Dallas.

"I thought the Dallas game was his best game this year," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's playing at a high level."

For a 3-2 Vikings team trying to build on a 20-17 victory over Chicago on Monday, the quarterback picture is less clear.

Case Keenum came off the bench to spark the Vikings on Monday having again been relegated to the reserve role as Sam Bradford returned from a knee injury.

Bradford didn't practice Wednesday, fueling expectations that Keenum would get the nod to start.

The New York Jets welcome Tom Brady and the visiting New England Patriots with the AFC East division lead on the line.

In a division long dominated by the Pats, the upstart Jets boast the same 3-2 record as the reigning Super Bowl champions from New England -- as do the Buffalo Bills, who are idle this week.

Brady, reported this week to be dealing with a shoulder injury, vowed he'd be ready. But the Patriots must find a way to better protect their superstar, who has been sacked 16 times in five games -- more than the 15 sacks he endured in the 12 games he played last season.

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