Steelers-Chiefs key matchup: Can Ben Roethlisberger carve up Chiefs again?

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Back in Week 4, the Pittsburgh Steelers hung 43 points on the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. It was their best offensive performance of the season. They were up 22-0 before the end of the first quarter and 29-0 at halftime. They piled up 436 yards of offense and had three different touchdown drives of 75 yards or more. Ben Roethlisberger was on fire all night and ultimately wound up completing 22 of 27 passes for 300 yards and five scores.

This Sunday, he’ll try to repeat that performance, only in a game with far greater stakes.

  • Who: Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
  • When: Sunday, Jan. 15, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Latest line: The Chiefs are 1.5-point favorites, according to SportsLine

In pondering whether Roethlisberger can have as much success against the Chiefs on Sunday night as he did early this season, it’s worth reviewing exactly how that 300-yard, five touchdown performance came together and whether the conditions that allowed for it are likely to be the same in the rematch.

As always, personnel and injuries will be key

First, there’s the matter of personnel. The Steelers have left guard Ramon Foster back for this game, further fortifying an offensive line that held up extremely well the first time around. They also have slot receiver Eli Rogers back in the lineup, giving Roethlisberger another target with which to pierce the Kansas City secondary. Ladarius Green is listed as doubtful and seems likely to miss this game, just as he missed the first matchup, but the Steelers have nevertheless been operating out of multi-tight end sets more often of late, with David Johnson getting several more snaps alongside Jesse James.

One of Roethlisberger’s primary targets in Week 4 was Sammie Coates, who broke out with six catches for 79 yards and even worked over Marcus Peters a bunch of times during that game. He’s not been playing nearly as many snaps since getting injured shortly after that breakout game, though, and Pittsburgh has been splitting his role between Darrius Heyward-Bey, Cobi Hamilton, and Demarcus Ayers.

The Kansas City defense is also likely to be…