In the last week, the Kansas City Chiefs have set many things in motion to try and turn around their 1-7 disaster of a season. Head coach Romeo Crennel fired himself as defensive coordinator and replaced himself with Gary Gibbs, cornerback Stanford Routt found himself cut despite signing a multi-year contract before the 2012 season, and there are rumors that team owner Clark Hunt has been talking to Marty Schottenheimer (who coached the team from 1989 through 1998) for whatever reason.
On Friday, Crennel said that any player who turns the ball over in the future will be immediately benched, which is actually a semi-sensible notion for a team with a minus-20 turnover ratio.
In short, to call the Chiefs a dumpster fire is an insult to dumpster fires everywhere, and everyone from GM Scott Pioli on down is on notice. It's not a good time for a team that hasn't held a single lead in regulation this year to be facing a Pittsburgh Steelers team with a resurgent defense, but that's what the Chiefs have to do Monday night.
The Steelers are 15th against the pass and 22nd against the run through the season's first nine weeks, according to Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, but that doesn't reflect a recent uptick that has seen them put Andy Dalton, Robert Griffin III and Eli Manning in their collective places in the last few weeks. Injuries affected that formerly power unit early in the season, but when you have defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau in charge of things, downswings will turn around.
"Coach LeBeau just stays the course," safety Ryan Clark recently told the Washington Post. "It's about effort. It's about doing things a certain way. When you get that right, it doesn't matter what you call it."
On offense, the Steelers are led as always by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who's getting some talk as an MVP candidate. Big Ben has come around to an offense run by Todd Haley that he previously referred to as "dink-and-dunk," and Haley's focus on the run game has paid impressive dividends of late. In those same last three games, the Steelers have had a 100-yard rusher -- the first games in which the team has passed that number. Isaac Redman's 147-yard performance against the Giants last week spoke to an offensive balance the Steelers haven't seen since the halcyon days of Jerome Bettis and Fast Willie Parker.
The Chiefs don't do much well at this point, but they do have some talented players. Pass rushers Justin Houston and Tampa Hali will provide severe challenges to Steelers offensive tackles Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert, and safety Eric Berry is starting to recover from his lost 2011 season.
That aside, there isn't as much analysis here as we'd like to give. The Steelers should take this game pretty handily -- they're on a hot streak, the Chiefs have the worst offense in the NFL, and Crennel's "NO TURNOVERS" mandate might have that balky team playing with even more of a fear of failure. With two games against the Baltimore Ravens over the next three weeks, the Steelers should enjoy as much of a bye here as it is possible to have against another NFL team.
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