Bill Cowher on Steelers-Chiefs NFL Wild Card Playoff game: ‘I expect this game to be a lot closer’

Bill Cowher knows a thing or two when it comes to proving people wrong. An undersized college linebacker who went undrafted, Cowher battled and ultimately earned a spot on the Browns’ 53-man roster. As the Steelers’ head coach, Cowher’s Steelers nearly upset the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX as a 13.5-point underdog. A decade later, his team made history by becoming the first sixth seed to win the Super Bowl. 

The Hall of Fame coach laughed when he was told of Ben Roethlisberger’s “we don’t have a chance” comments leading up to Pittsburgh’s wild-card game against Kansas City. The game is a rematch of the Chiefs’ 36-10 win over the Steelers back in Week 16, an outcome that likely contributed to the Steelers’ being a 12.5-point underdog. Cowher, whose 2005 team upset the Colts in the playoffs after losing soundly in Indianapolis during the regular season, feels that the Steelers are in a better position having already played the Chiefs this season. 

“You play a team a second time, there’s a little familiarity with that,” Cowher said this week. “I think the familiarity really benefits the team that loses. It slows down a little bit the more you play a team. That’s why you see all these close divisional games because they know each other so well. Playing a team for a second time is like that divisional game. 

“I expect this game to be a lot closer.” 

Cowher feels that Pittsburgh’s prior experience on defense should help them handle the speed of the Chiefs’ offense, led by Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. While they have had their struggles this season (especially against the run), Cowher pointed to the Steelers’ defense — specifically T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden — as a reason why he expects a more competitive game. Cowher also alluded to the Steelers’ young playmakers on offense, specifically rookies Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth. Harris ran for…

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