John Woz, Jr. | October 11th, 2019
The Los Angeles Chargers (2-3) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) in the Sunday night game. Anthony Lynn is under pressure to get his team back to .500 football. The oddsmakers consider the Bolts as six-point favorites. The Chargers are 8-22 all-time against the Steelers in the regular season.
Mike Tomlin is also under pressure to find wins, and he’s also without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While fullback Derek Watt lined up against his brother J.J. Watt week three, this time around he’ll face younger brother T.J. Watt.
A week five loss at home to the Denver Broncos (1-4) puts the Chargers a game behind the Oakland Raiders (3-2). To make matters worse, the Chargers have lost center Mike Pouncey for the season. The injuries keep mounting, but the Chargers have to overcome the frustrations of playing without their key players.
Chargers versus Steelers Key matchups
Steelers defense versus Philip Rivers
Rivers is 134-194 with 1,465 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions this season. The veteran quarterback threw two interceptions in week five. The Steelers have had six interceptions this season and Rivers needs to take better care of the football on Sunday. The Chargers offensive line will have their work cut out. Dan Feeney will take over for Pouncey at center. Offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt gave Feeney his backing in the build-up to the game.
We felt all along that Dan could be a great center, and he’s worked at it. We have a lot of confidence in Dan and what he can do (via Chargers.com).
The Steelers have sacked the quarterback 19 times this season, which is the third-highest in the league. Keith Butler’s defense will look to exploit Trent Scott at left tackle. Scott has had a poor start to the season, and PFF grades him 46.7. The second-year pro has given up three sacks.
Steelers linebackers versus Chargers running game
The Denver Broncos stifled the Chargers to 38 yards on the ground in week five. Austin Ekeler has had a great season. The undrafted running back has 583 net yards and six touchdowns, three on the ground and three through the air. Ekeler had a meagre three carries for seven yards last week. The Broncos held Melvin Gordon to 31 yards, the eighth-lowest total of his pro career. The ground game is an area for improvement in week six.
Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick provide the Steelers with a physical duo against the run. Bush, a first-round pick in the 2019 draft has been lively on the field, with 45 combined tackles. Fitzpatrick picked off Jimmy Garoppolo in the week three loss to the San Francisco 49ers. I expect Fitzpatrick to create turnovers on Sunday.
Chargers defense versus Devlin Hodges
Hodges is a third-string quarterback. The former Stamford player is an unknown quantity in the NFL. Gus Bradley’s defensive unit must get early pressure on Hodges to unsettle his rhythm and disrupt his passing game. Hodges displays athleticism in the College tape, but defenses will not afford him the same time in the NFL. The rookie has a tough job of leading the 29th overall ranked offense, he must learn quickly. Melvin Ingram won’t play in Sunday’s game, so it’s up to Joey Bosa to lead the Chargers pass rush.
This is a game neither side can afford to lose. It’s back to basics of moving the chains, minimizing the penalties and turnovers. Both rosters have had their fair share of injuries. The Steelers are desperate to get away from the basement of the NFL, the Chargers meanwhile, must keep pace with their divisional rivals. The Chargers will win the game by a field goal.
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