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NFL playoffs | Chiefs vs. Steelers: How they match up

NFL playoffs | Chiefs vs. Steelers: How they match up

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith runs with the ball during a game against the Chargers in San Diego on Jan. 1.

(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

This probably won’t be known as “Ice Bowl II,” since temperatures are not expected to dip below 32 degrees in Arrowhead Stadium. 

That 1967 NFL championship game between Green Bay and Dallas in Lambeau Field kicked off amid temperatures of minus-15 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like minus-48. As referee Norm Schachter blew his metal whistle to signal the start of play, it froze to his lips.

But weather already has played a factor in the Steelers-Chiefs game, with kickoff pushed back more than seven hours because of a storm that is predicted to dump as much as half an inch of ice on the Kansas City area early Sunday.

The NFL cited “public safety concerns” as the reason for the move, which will give local authorities more time to clear roads so that people can drive safely to and from the game.

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The natural-grass playing field is heated and will remain covered, so footing shouldn’t be a problem for players. 

That wasn’t the case in the 1967 title game, when Lambeau’s turf-heating system malfunctioned.

When the tarpaulin was removed it left moisture on the field, which flash-froze in the extreme cold, leaving an icy playing surface that worsened as the afternoon wore on.

For whom Bell tolls

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If the Chiefs are to avenge a 43-14 loss to the Steelers on Oct. 2, they must do a better job of containing running back Le’Veon Bell, who thrashed Kansas City for 144 yards in 18 carries and caught five passes for 34 yards in the Week 4 game.

Bell, who had a franchise postseason record 167 yards rushing with two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s 30-12 wild-card win over Miami last week, has a knack for hesitating behind his line and bursting through a crease, causing CBS analyst Phil Simms to dub him “The Great Hesitator.”

“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 one who does it, so it’s unique. The obvious thing is you have to … take care of your gaps.”

Brown vs. Peters

The game’s most intriguing individual matchup could be Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown against cornerbark Marcus Peters.

Brown, who ranked second in the NFL in receptions (106) and yards (1,284) and first in touchdown catches (12), caught five passes for 124 yards, including scoring catches of 50 and 62 yards in the first quarter against Miami last week.

Peters, the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year in 2015, led the Chiefs with six interceptions and 20 passes defended, numbers that ranked second and third in the NFL despite a sharp reduction in chances.

He was targeted 151 times last season, according to Pro Football Focus. After his league-high eight interceptions and 26 passes defended, Peters was targeted 87 times this season.

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By the numbers

How teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for sacks and turnover differential, which is for the season (league rank in parentheses):

  PIT KC 

Points scored 24.9 (T10)  24.3 (13) 

Points allowed  20.4 (10) 19.4 (7) 

Pass offense 262.6 (T5)  233.8 (19) 

Rush offense 110.0 (14)  109.3 (15) 

Pass defense 242.6 (16)  247.4 (18) 

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Rush defense 100.0 (13)  121.1 (26) 

Sacks 38 (T9)  28 (28) 

Penalty yards 66.8 (27)  53.0 (9) 

Turnovers +5 (9)  +16 (T1) 

Sam Farmer’s pick

The Steelers are hot, and they pounded the Chiefs in their last meeting. Kansas City plays Ben Roethlisberger tough at home, though, and this team is consistent.

CHIEFS 23, STEELERS 21

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Follow Mike DiGiovana on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna


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