Pittsburgh Steelers at San Diego Chargers (-3, 45.5 o/u)
The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, 1-1 Away) are just trying to hang on for dear life with Big Ben on the sidelines. With a tough schedule in the coming weeks, this Monday night matchup (8:30 PM Eastern) at the San Diego Chargers (2-2, 2-0 Home) might be their best shot at securing a win until Roethlisberger returns in November.
The black and gold already blew a golden opportunity to keep winning last week, when they coughed up a late lead – thanks to a pair of Josh Scobee missed field goals – to the previous winless Ravens, losing 23-20 in OT. Now with games against the Cardinals and Bengals on the horizon, Pittsburgh could use a win in the worst way against a Chargers team that is still trying to figure itself out.
San Diego’s run game has improved slightly over last year with Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead sharing carries, but this is still an offense that lives and dies with the arm of Philip Rivers. The NFL’s leading passer in yardage has been under siege this season, getting sacked 12 times and taking 37 hits. As a result, his accuracy has dropped as the season moves along. But a sore Rivers will get a boost with the return of his favorite target, tight end Antonio Gates, this week.
The Chargers have won a pair of home games this year, admittedly against the 0-4 Lions and the 1-3 Browns. Concerningly, even against those poor offenses, the Charger D allowed 28 and 27 points, respectively, needing the offense to put up 30+ points to secure a win.
With Vick at the helm instead of Big Ben, the Steelers offense isn’t nearly as threatening, but against a porous San Diego run defense Le’Veon Bell should have another big night. Coupled with Antonio Brown at wide out, Pittsburgh has more than enough weapons to score in the high 20s like the teams before them.
If San Diego is going to pull out this win, Rivers will need to pile on points against a surprisingly stingy Steeler D that ranks eighth in scoring and has amassed 14 sacks on the year. Rivers will need another MVP-like performance if the Chargers are going to hit the 30-point mark again in this game.
Against the spread, Pittsburgh has gone 2-0-2 this year. Monday night’s game is another that looks like a push at the very least for the Steelers.
Pick: Steelers +3.
(Photo Credit: Nathan Rupert (Originally posted to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/].)
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