HISTORY: 32nd meeting, second in postseason. The Steelers lead, 21-10. The Chiefs beat the Steelers 27-24 in overtime in a 1993 AFC wild-card game at Arrowhead Stadium. Pittsburgh is 10-7 in Kansas City, but the Chiefs won the last meeting, 23-13 in 2015.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Chiefs were hammered 43-14 in Pittsburgh in October, and they are determined to back up their No. 2 seeding by paying back the visiting Steelers.
Le'Veon Bell ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns last week in the Steelers' blowout of Miami. It was a record-setting rushing performance in Pittsburgh postseason history. Back in October, Bell put up 144 yards on 18 carries against Kansas City.
"He has a unique style about him -- that delay to get to the line of scrimmage," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It's been effective for him. He's really the only one that does it, so it's unique. The obvious thing is you have to contain him and take care of your gaps."
Pittsburgh is riding a nine-game winning streak and an AFC North title with more than just Bell. Wide receiver Antonio Brown was among the league leaders in catches (106), yards (1,284) and touchdown receptions (12). Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes to four receivers against the Chiefs in October.
The Chiefs can test the Pittsburgh defense with big plays from wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Over Kansas City's last six games, Hill and Kelce have scored seven touchdowns and contributed 45 percent of the offensive yards (470 of 2,150).
"He is as dynamic as any tight end in football right now," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Kelce. "He is a matchup issue -- too athletic for linebackers, too big and strong often times for secondary people. Hill's contributions have evolved since we played them. Now, he is very much a part of their routine offensive attack. He is an impactful guy and his speed and bursts are unique."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell vs. Chiefs LBs Ramik Wilson, Terrance Smith, D.J. Alexander and Justin March-Lillard. It may take all four of those linebackers to slow down Bell, the engine of the Pittsburgh offense. He's a threat as both a runner and receiver, leading the AFC with 1,884 scrimmage yards in 12 games. The Chiefs' linebackers must find ways to fill the gaps and keep Bell bottled up behind the line of scrimmage as he seeks a running lane. An experienced offensive line will make that difficult; but, to have a shot at winning the game, the Chiefs inside 'backers can't allow Bell to average the 5.8 yards per carry he posted last Sunday against Miami in an 18-point Pittsburgh victory.
--Chiefs OLs Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Zach Fulton vs. Steelers LBs Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons. Kansas City must find a way to stay balanced on offense. The running game must be available and effective for the Chiefs to win. That inside blocking trio must also handle the Steelers defense's blitz schemes. Timmons and Shazier were the leading tacklers for Pittsburgh and combined for six sacks, 17 pressures and five interceptions. In the regular-season game between the teams, K.C. ran for just 87 yards, but 46 came on a Spencer Ware run. On the 17 other carries, the Chiefs gained 41 yards.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin. In the second half of the season, tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill produced big plays and touchdowns. Barely showing up was Maclin, the team's highest-paid receiver after signing a five-year, $55 million deal before the 2015 season. In the second year of the deal, Maclin caught just 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns over 12 games, the least productive of his seven NFL seasons. A significant groin injury cost him five games in the middle of the season. In his absence, Hill got more and more playing time. With Pittsburgh's defensive focus falling on Hill and Kelce, there should be openings for Maclin against a mediocre secondary.
Pittsburgh defeated Miami 30-12 last week, the Steelers' NFL-record 35th postseason win. Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns, the most rushing yards in a postseason game in club history.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes of 50 and 62 yards to WR Antonio Brown in the wild-card win. Brown is the only player in NFL history to score two 50-yard touchdowns in the first quarter of a playoff game.
Pittsburgh had five players selected to the Pro Bowl: OG David DeCastro, C Maurkice Pouncey, Roethlisberger Bell and Brown.
The Chiefs, who have won 10 of their past 12 games, clinched the AFC West for the first time since 2010.
Kansas City QB Alex Smith has a 0.5 interception percentage (one interception, 186 attempts) in his postseason career, the best mark in NFL history (minimum 150 attempts).
Chiefs rookie WR/KR Tyreek Hill is the only player in NFL history to record at least three receiving touchdowns (six), three rushing touchdowns (three) and three kick-return touchdowns (three) in a season.
Kansas City had four players selected to the Pro Bowl: FS Eric Berry, TE Travis Kelce, CB Marcus Peters and Hill.
The Steelers' Big Three looks unstoppable, and the Steelers have momentum and matchups in their favor. Plus, the cold won't bother them.
OUR PICK: Steelers, 27-20.