NFL Wild Card Weekend Best Bets: Are Chiefs Overvalued Vs. Steelers?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on January 11, 2022 - Last Updated on January 16, 2022

With the NFL playoffs approaching, there’s one trend to keep in mind that showcases inflation. In the last five wild-card rounds, underdogs are 15-7 against the spread (68.1%) while going 10-12 straight-up. Considering five of these six contests are rematches, oddsmakers are accounting for recency bias from the market when determining the odds board. But how many of them are included in my NFL Wild Card best bets?

Let’s focus on the Steelers at Chiefs matchup — just three weeks after Kansas City demolished Pittsburgh as a 10.5-point home favorite.

Click on the odds below to place a bet now. You can continue the discussion in our betting community, as we break down all of the games throughout the week.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

For starters, let’s dig a little deeper into history. Below are the playoff teams with the worst point-differential of all-time and their wild-card round ATS results. Keep in mind, seven of the eight teams also won the game outright.

YearTeamPoint DifferentialATS (Result)Straight-Up
2017Bills (at Jaguars)-57+8 (W)Loss
2016Texans (vs. Raiders)-49-4 (W)Win
2011 Broncos (vs. Steelers)-81+7.5 (W)Win
2010Seahawks (vs. Saints)-97+10 (W)Win
2004Rams (at Seahawks)-73+4 (W)Win
1998Cardinals (at Cowboys)-53+7 (W)Win
1989Steelers (at Oilers)-61+7 (W)Win
1978Falcons (vs. Eagles)-50-2.5 (L)Win

An abysmal point differential will naturally hurt a team’s power rating, which plays into how a point spread is constructed. Mike Tomlin’s unit showcased the league’s 11th-worst point differential (-55), so it fits right into the chart. In fact, this is the biggest wild-card spread in NFL history.

In the Chiefs’ 26-point drubbing of the Steelers, Pittsburgh tallied 4.3 yards per play (YPP) and three turnovers — unable to generate a positive game script. But Kansas City’s defense is most vulnerable when the opposition establishes itself on the ground. Despite the notion that Steve Spanologo’s bunch underwent a complete turnaround from Week 8 and onward, the Chiefs surrendered the third-highest rushing success rate (SR) during that stretch.

  • SR showcases whether a play is successful if a team gains:
    • 50 percent of the yards needed to move the chains on first down
    • 70 percent of yards to gain on second down
    • 100 percent of yards to gain on third or fourth down

Rookie tailback Najee Harris and the Steelers’ collective rushing attack ranks slightly below-average in that category, yet they should find some room against this front-seven if they maximize their possessions. Pittsburgh is averaging the seventh-most seconds per play (29.2) in first halves — regardless of the game state — which would help grind the clock against Patrick Mahomes & Co. if their drives are sustainable.

On the other side of the ball, the Steelers boast a top-11 passing SR and expected points added (EPA) per dropback, respectfully. Unlike their first meeting, outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who’s favored to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is presumably healthier.

  • EPA is calculated by expected points scored based on the down, distance, and field position at the start of a play — juxtaposed with the play’s conclusion.

Assuming Kansas City wideout Tyreek Hill (heel) suits up, slowing down Andy Reid’s offense will be more of an arduous task. Nevertheless, Tomlin’s cover-2 scheme is built to keep the ball in front of Pittsburgh’s secondary, and that should help limit explosive plays. The Chiefs bled some time in the second half of their Week 16 win, but they notched just 5.7 YPP.

Even with a limited Ben Roethlisberger under center, expect Steelers to hang within two possessions. Remember, the rah-rah Tomlin is 47-25-3 ATS (65.2%) as an underdog. Avoid steering towards the inflated number, but we’ll need more points to take the other side.

Eli’s Bet: Steelers +13 (placed on Sunday morning at DraftKings)
NFL Wild Card Best Bets: Steelers +12 or better
Best Available Line: Steelers

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Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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