The trickiest contest to call this weekend comes at Arrowhead where two in-form franchises meet hoping to prove they are New England’s biggest rivals to an AFC title.
Momentum is lodged with Pittsburgh. They are riding an eight-game winning streak, running back Le’Veon Bell is transforming the game in a manner he compared to the NBA’s Steph Curry this week and star wide receiver Antonio Brown has accrued 220 yards and three touchdowns in his past two games.
Perhaps of more importance has been their improved defence, a talented, largely young unit growing as the challenges have become sterner and in their eight-game winning streak they have given up just 16.63 points per contest.
On the flip side, this Kansas City team are no pushovers. They finished 5-2 down the stretch as electric wide-out Tyreek Hill emerged alongside brilliant tight end Travis Kelce to create two offensive weapons for QB Alex Smith, who just so happens to love this time of year.
Despite a 2-3 play-off record, Smith has tossed 11 touchdowns and only one interception in five post-season games and has a quarterback rating of 99.1, compared to a regular-season rating of 85.3.
“I think he’s had a good year,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of Smith. “I would agree that he’s had some good games in the play-offs. He’s a competitive guy and he loves the situation.”
The image Smith is fighting against is one of a game-manager, capable of taking a good team only so far, and in his 12th season in the league it is a tag he has been unable to shake off.
On the other side is Ben Roethlisberger, a man with a history of battling against the odds to find a way to win. This has not been the two-time Super Bowl winner’s finest year but he had fourth-quarter comeback wins in each of his last two regular-season games.
Then there’s the week-four meeting between these two when Pittsburgh wiped the floor with the Chiefs, annihilating them 43-14. Big Ben threw five touchdowns that day and Bell ran for 144 yards on the ground.
There is plenty of optimism for Pittsburgh and Kansas City’s status as a team that are very good but not great could continue again with another play-off exit at this stage.