When it comes to health, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs are not so far apart. Both teams are relatively healthy heading into tomorrow’s game, though, based on their current 53-man rosters, the health edge goes to Kansas City, who have no players listed on their injury report.
But they do have some important pieces sitting on injured reserve, including some big names who played a major role in their first meeting with the Steelers, most notably Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson. Fifth-year veteran defensive lineman Jaye Howard is also on injured reserve, as is Allen Bailey.
Those are some major holes to fill in the front seven, though the Steelers have one of their own with Cameron Heyward having been on injured reserve for half the season. And like Kansas City, Pittsburgh also got back one of their key edge rushers that they didn’t have available to them in the first meeting.
Second-year former first-round draft pick Bud Dupree spent most of the regular season on injured reserve, but entered the starting lineup and began playing every snap in about the final quarter of the season. He has five sacks in his past five games, a number that includes two half-sacks, one of which came against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are looking forward to getting Justin Houston back—for the second time this season. The former All-Pro missed most of the season with an injury, and then when he returned, he played well for a couple games before dealing with knee swelling. He sat out the final two games, but resumed full practices this week and is expected to be good to go.
As far as offensive talent off the shelf, the Chiefs really haven’t had much from Jamaal Charles all year due to injury, and his future is uncertain at this point. The Steelers are likely to be without Ladarius Green at the tight end position as he figures to miss his fourth consecutive game due to a concussion.
The Steelers are going to be without Anthony Chickillo again, who has become one of their core special teamers over the past two years. I believe he led the team in special teams tackles this year. Any deficiency at special teams is going to be a problem against Tyreek Hill, who had a punt return touchdown called back due to a penalty in the first meeting between these two teams.
Also listed as questionable are defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews, who has seen his role reduced in recent weeks prior to his injury with L.T. Walton emerging. Fitzgerald Toussaint, the third-string running back, yet primary kick returner, is questionable with a concussion and could put Justin Gilbert back there as a result.
All in all, it could be a lot worse for both teams, and it has been a lot worse for both teams. Both sides have become better and healthier teams overall since the last meeting, which should make for a good showdown in the first home playoff game in Arrowhead Stadium in over a decade.