Posted on November 30, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams that are expected to be in the playoff picture year in and year out. The Los Angeles Chargers often get close to looking like a playoff caliber team, but in recent years have come up short. But this season, they both look legit which can only mean one thing.
That when these two meet on Sunday Night Football this week, fans are going to be in for one heck of a game.
But who will come out on top? Will Big Ben Roethlisberger rule the day? Or will the sun shine brighter on the other sideline and Philip Rivers?
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All eyes will certainly start on the quarterbacks for this one. Rivers will be coming off a game where he started with 25 consecutive completions and ended the day with just a single incompletion. It would be easy to point at the caliber of the opponent as part of the reason why. But the Cardinals have one of the best pass defenses in the league (fourth in yards/game allowed).
Ben Roethlisberger is having another stellar year with over 3600+ yards passing and 24 touchdowns to his name. Of the Steelers 11 games, he has thrown for more than 300+ in seven. When the Steelers need him to and with the weapons he has, he can sling the ball all over the field.
But while the QBs will be getting a lot of the attention, the game may be decided by the defense and running backs. Both have good defenses. From a statistical perspective, the Steelers are better against the run and pass. But the Chargers allow fewer points per game.
The Chargers also recently welcomed back to the lineup star defensive lineman Joey Bosa. A case could be made that they are going to be even better this week now that Bosa has returned.
Of course, the best way to loosen up a defense is to establish a running game. James Conner has done a good job or the Steelers this season, but he has experienced some struggles as well. Melvin Gordon is going to be out with an injury.
In Gordon’s place, Austin Ekeler is expected to get a lot of work. He gained a respectable 35 yards on five carries last week but also chipped in another 68 yards in the passing game (ten receptions).
The Chargers will be missing an essential piece of their puzzle with Gordon out. But they have enough offensive weapons to survive without him. While the Steelers will not let Rivers have a near perfect day as he did against the Cardinals, Rivers will have a good one. But will Big Ben be able to keep up?
He has some great weapons on his side as well in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown. But the Steelers offense hasn’t been clicking on all cylinders lately. They have had games where they have looked great. But they seem to have more where they don’t or need time to warm up.
Against an offense and defense like the Chargers have, they can’t afford to take time to warm up.
Pittsburgh is a 3.5-point favorite, but don’t be shocked if the Chargers win by seven.