FILE PHOTO: Jan 9, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) drops back to pass as Baltimore Ravens linebacker Chris Board (49) and outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) aplly pressure during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
January 14, 2022
By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – In what could be the final game of Ben Roethlisberger’s Hall of Fame career, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback does not like his team’s chances against the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs this weekend when the road to next month’s Super Bowl begins.
The NFL’s Wild Card weekend, which marks the start of the 14-team playoffs, features two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday. The Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers each have a bye.
Sunday’s primetime matchup against the Chiefs, who reached the Super Bowl the last two years as champions of the American Football Conference, could be the end of Roethlisberger’s career as he has hinted at retirement this season.
If this is indeed the last NFL season for the 39-year-old, a tough-as-nails competitor who has come up big in countless crucial moments during his career, he is not a fan of his team’s chances.
“I know they’re not the No. 1 seed, obviously, but they’re the No. 1 team that has won the AFC the last two years, arguably the best team in football,” said two-times Super Bowl champion Roethlisberger. “We don’t have a chance. So, let’s just go in and play and have fun.”
The playoffs begin with the Las Vegas Raiders at the Cincinnati Bengals in a matchup where quarterbacks Derek Carr, in his eighth NFL season, and 2020 first overall draft pick Joe Burrow will both be playing in their first career playoff games.
That game will be followed by the New England Patriots, with rookie Mac Jones at quarterback, at the Buffalo Bills in a clash of division rivals that split their two regular-season meetings.
New England enter the post-season having lost three of their last four games while Buffalo, who reached the AFC Championship Game last year, have won four consecutive games but have been less than impressive the last two weeks.
Sunday’s action kicks off with Tom Brady and reigning Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Buccaneers set a team record with 13 wins this season, including one against Philadelphia last October, but the team are not taking anything for granted against a confident Eagles squad that boast a powerful rushing attack.
“As soon as everybody walked into the building today – 2021 is over,” Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said on Wednesday as the team began their Wild Card practice week.
“This is a whole new season, and nothing matters except winning this week, and everybody is in tune to that. You can feel it in the building.”
The San Francisco 49ers will visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday ahead of the Pittsburgh-Kansas City game.
Wild Card weekend concludes with Monday’s game between the host Los Angeles Rams, who have won five of their last six games, versus the Arizona Cardinals, who enter the game having lost four of their last five.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)