This pregame report is brought to you by Colorcast.
Want to talk about Steelers football with other Yinzers and Steelers legends like Ryan Shazier and Ike Taylor. Check out Colorcast, the first of its kind Social Sports Talk app, where you can listen to every Steelers hot take, or host your own sports talk show! Seriously. The mic is yours! Download the app now.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an ugly tie versus the Detroit Lions and are entering their Week 11 matchup pretty beat-up. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers are coming off an ugly loss at home at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings. However, the Chargers are entering this week with a healthy supporting cast and are looking to take advantage of the Steelers’ absent playmakers. With each team sitting in second place in their respective conference and looking to stay in the playoff race, this matchup is definitely going to be interesting.
Let’s take a look at some things we can look forward to.
MATCHUPS AT A GLANCE
Offense: I feel it is worth mentioning of how critical it is Ben Roethlisberger was able to clear the COVID hurdle and rejoin the team in Los Angeles this weekend. With that said however, Roethlisberger isn’t going to need to throw the ball 50 times in order for the offense to score points. The Chargers have the worst rushing defense in the entire league and give up an average of over 155 yards on the ground to opposing offenses per game. This means that the Steelers will need to ride Najee Harris. If I’m offensive coordinator Matt Canada, the game plan is simple; run the ball until the Chargers stop it, then run it some more. Although the Steelers’ offensive line will be without Kevin Dotson, the Chargers don’t have the ability at the defensive tackle position with Joe Gaziano, Linval Joseph, and Justin Jones to stop the Steelers’ run attack. It is great Roethlisberger is going to play, but that just helps in keeping the Chargers’ defense honest. Bottom line, ride Harris all over the field. Plus, the longer the Steelers’ offense keeps the Chargers’ offense off the field, the more of a chance the Steelers have at winning.
Defense: The Steelers’ defense will be without Joe Haden, T.J. Watt, Isaiahh Loudermilk, and Minkah Fitzpatrick. This doesn’t bode well going against an offense who loves to pass the ball and has the 7th best passing attack in the league. On defense the formula is simple to create, but difficult to execute; make quarterback Justin Herbert uncomfortable in the pocket and blanket receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Again, I understand that is easier said than done. To accomplish this, several depth-players are going to have to step up in a big way. Taco Charlton is set to take over the left outside linebacker spot in place of Watt. Justin Layne is listed as Haden’s replacement in the left cornerback spot, but don’t be surprised if we see James Pierre alternate in as well. With Fitzpatrick out, we may see some more dime looks, with Tre Norwood, Miles Killebrew, and maybe even Marcus Allen seeing some time rotating in and out. The Chargers know the secondary is the Steelers’ biggest weakness on defense, and look for them to exploit that. It is a tough ask for the Steelers to lock down the Chargers’ air attack, but if they do, they’ll come out with a victory.
As I said before, this is going to be a tough, gritty game. The Steelers are going to have to rely on the offense to win this game and can’t depend on a depleted defensive squad to close this one out. Call me optimistic, but I think they can do it. For some strange reason, head coach Mike Tomlin coaches best on the road with a team of back-ups in prime time and the Steelers have the running attack needed to keep the Chargers off the field. Prediction; 27-23, Steelers.
Since 1971, the Steelers are 24-10 all time against the Chargers. Going back to 2000, the Steelers are 4-1 on the road against the Chargers, but this will be their first time playing in Sofi Stadium. Taking a different look at that, the Steelers hold a 4-10 record when playing on the west coast since 2000. If you look at both those records, you’re able to see that the Chargers are the only team the Steelers have beaten on the west coast since 2000, and it has been consistent. Roethlisberger’s record isn’t anything to write home about, as it is only 3-3 versus the Chargers. One final note is this; the Steelers are entering this contest as 5-point underdogs. Since 2018, the Steelers are 13-8 as underdogs, which is the third-best in the entire NFL. On the other hand, the Chargers are 22-16 since 2018 when listed as a favorite, which is ranked 22nd in the league.
What are you watching for on Sunday night? What do you think the final outcome will be? Let us know in the comments below!