While the Kansas City Chiefs defense is impressive when it comes to not giving up deep passes and keeping opponents out of their own end zone, they have shown this season that they can be run on between the 20s.
Entering Week 16, the Chiefs defense has allowed an average of 5.04 yards per carry between the 20s this season when you exclude kneel downs and only three other teams have allowed a higher yards per carry in that area of the field.
As you can see in the chart below, the Chiefs defense has had problems defending the run in every direction between the 20s, but outside of the guards is really where they’ve had their biggest problems.
Against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers had problems establishing a good ground game. The Falcons did a good job of stacking the box and filling the lanes in that game and it resulted in running back Le’Veon Bell averaging just 2.35 yards on his 20 carries.
Bell’s numbers between the 20s against the Falcons were even more dismal as those 16 runs resulted in a mere 25 yards (1.56).
In order to keep quarterback Ben Roethlisberger upright this coming Sunday, the Steelers offense is going to have to run the ball much better than they did against the Falcons. If they can’t, Chiefs linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston will get plenty of opportunities to pin their ears back on obvious passing downs. Houston is tied for the league lead in sacks entering Sunday’s game, so the less that Roethlisberger has to drop back the better.
The Steelers will more than likely have Marcus Gilbert back starting at right tackle this week and that should help out the running game some. In addition, I fully expect the offense to try to exploit the Chiefs defense with runs outside the guards.
2014 Regular Season Running Play Direction Report For The Kansas City Chiefs Between The 20s