KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs were 7-1 against opponents that finished the 2016 season in the top 10 in scoring. And they didn't collect those seven wins by employing a ball-control offense aimed at keeping the ball away from their high-scoring opponents.
They won most of those games by outscoring their opponents: 33 and 37 points against the Chargers, 26 against the Raiders, 27 against the Saints, 30 against the Colts and 29 against the Falcons. Only in a 21-13 win over the Raiders did the Chiefs fail to surpass their season scoring average of 24.3 points.
The Chiefs might be wise to remember that as they prepare for Sunday's divisional round playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Steelers are yet another opponent that finished in the top 10 in scoring, in their case tied for 10th at 24.9 points per game. Pittsburgh, in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell, has a collection of skill players that most other teams can only envy.
It might sound crazy for the Chiefs to try to win a high-scoring battle against the Steelers. But that strategy has worked well for them against similarly constructed opponents.
The best example was a Dec. 5 game against Atlanta, which wound up leading the NFL in scoring by 4.5 points, at 33.8 points per game. Coach Andy Reid realized the Chiefs weren't going to hold the Falcons much below their season average for points. Few of their opponents did.
So the Chiefs put everything into giving their offense a boost. They scored two touchdowns on fourth-down plays, one being a 55-yard run from a punt formation by Albert Wilson.
The Chiefs' one loss to a high-scoring opponent was against the Steelers when the teams met in October in Pittsburgh. The game got away early from the Chiefs, who made some uncharacteristic mistakes. They committed two turnovers on their first three possessions and were down 22-0 at the end of the first quarter. They didn't score until the fourth quarter and lost 43-14 as Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns, two to Brown. Bell rushed for 144 yards.
The game was similar to Pittsburgh's 30-12 playoff win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Dolphins allowed two long touchdown passes to Brown early in the game. Then they showed signs of life but lost two fumbles to kill any realistic chance of a comeback. The Dolphins scored their only touchdown in the fourth quarter, with the outcome no longer in doubt.
So a fast start by the Chiefs, perhaps spurred by some aggressive playcalling, would help as well.
"They'll probably be the first ones to tell you you've got to take care of the ball," Reid said of the Dolphins. "You've got to block and tackle well and you've got to play well. They're a good football team. There are only a few teams remaining that are playing. They're all good football teams. That's an important thing to know.
"You've got to do what got you here. There's not a lot of room for error. That's not what this time of year is about."