fter the Kansas City Chiefs blew them out 36-10 in Week 16, not many people are expecting the Pittsburgh Steelers to come out with a victory on Wild-Card weekend against the defending AFC champions. That’s why the Steelers opened as 13-point underdogs for the matchup, per DraftKings Sportsbook, which is by far the biggest point spread for the first weekend of playoff matchups.
While it would seem natural for Pittsburgh to play into the underdog narrative and use it to fuel them, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is taking a different approach. Instead, he seems to be playing mind tricks on the Chiefs, along with anyone else that wants to listen to him.
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Big Ben: ‘We Don’t Have a Chance’
“We haven’t discussed it, but I would assume as a group you understand that we probably aren’t supposed to be here,” Roethlisberger said of Pittsburgh’s playoff berth during his press conference on Wednesday, January 12. “We’re probably not a very good football team. Out of the 14 teams that are in, we’re probably number 14. We’re double-digit underdogs in the playoffs. So, let’s just go play, have fun and see what happens.”
Roethlisberger played further into his own narrative, claiming the No. 7 seeded Steelers “don’t have a chance.”
“We’re probably 20-point underdogs, and we’re going to the No. 1 team that’s won the AFC the last two years,” Roethlisberger said. “Arguably the best team in football. We don’t have a chance, so let’s just go play and have fun.”
This is probably sarcasm on Roethlisberger’s part, as it would be a terrible look for him to publicly make those claims if he actually believed them to be true. Playing down the Steelers’ abilities is likely an attempt to get Kansas City’s guard down, allowing Pittsburgh to pounce on a team that may not think the Steelers are a tough matchup.
But the Chiefs aren’t falling for it.
Mahomes on Big Ben’s Potential Last Game
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes spoke about the possibility of ending Roethlisberger’s season, and potentially his career with a win over the Steelers in the postseason.
“I mean I haven’t even thought about it like that. He’s an all-time great quarterback that’s going to be in the Hall of Fame one day, but he’s still playing great football right now,” Mahomes said during his press conference on Wednesday, January 12. “If you look at the big-time throws, he’s made to keep their season alive, we know it’s going to be a great challenge for us.
“Not just him, but that entire team. They have an attitude about them, a mindset they play with so we’re not taking them lightly at all. They’re a team that’s beat a lot of good football teams and so to get to play against Big Ben is an honor for me. He’s a great football player.”
Despite a high level of respect for the Steelers QB, Mahomes doesn’t expect Big Ben and the entire Pittsburgh team to come out as flat as they did in Week 16 when Mahomes had one of his best performances of the season.
“I think with any game just like when you play a divisional opponent, you keep a little bit of stuff here and there, but you got to come with a different game plan for sure. They’re going to go through and watch the game plan and try to take away that stuff we had success with the first time,” Mahomes explained. “We’ll have some elements in there, but we’ll have stuff to go off of from the game before.
“We had a great game that day where we executed at a very high level, but this is a good defense. They’re going to come with answers, they have great coaches who have coached for a long time and had a ton of success, so we know it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a battle each and every play and we’ll come in with the mindset knowing that if we don’t play our best football we’ll be at home the next week.”