Los Angeles Chargers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Pick
Los Angeles Chargers (8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1 SU, 6-4-1 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 8:20PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
By Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAC +3.5/PIT -3.5 (Bovada)
Over/Under Total: 51.5
The Los Angeles Chargers battle the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in a big week 13 AFC battle on Sunday Night Football. These are two teams who could be seeing more of each other in the postseason. The Chargers moved their mark to 8-3 on Sunday with a lopsided 45-10 win over the Cardinals. They are now poised for the playoffs and are just one game behind the Chiefs. The Steelers are looking to dust themselves off after a rough 24-17 loss at Denver on Sunday. They hold a lead in the AFC North, but need to get back to winning after seeing their 6-game win streak snapped. I like the Chargers to cover the spread this week at Heinz Field on SNF.
High Stakes for the Chargers
The Chargers have been big this season with an 8-3 record, which includes 7 wins in their last 8 games. With their losses coming to the Rams and Chiefs and no real huge wins to boast of, a win over a contender in the Steelers would really give the Bolts a big push, beyond the importance of one more game in the win-column. They’re a contender, but a team that is still looking for a stamp of validation One could maybe say the same thing about the Steelers, who have yet to really beat a team of this level.
Still, there seems to be this weird organizational failure on the part of the Chargers. We saw what it did the week before with the weird loss to Denver—more a result of the Chargers mishandling the late-game play-calling. It manifested a different way on Sunday, when Melvin Gordon was out there late for God knows what reason in a blowout win, taking a reverse unprotected and hurting his knee. There is just something about the Chargers that makes them so much less-reliable and professional than they should be.
The Steelers and Urgency
So far this season, Pittsburgh has responded well to bad situations. After winning only one of their first four games of the season, they were able to alter course dramatically, winning 6 straight and not failing to cover the spread once in that period. The last few weeks have seen the Steelers slacking off a bit. First came a close win against Jacksonville where they were half-dead for the first three quarters of the game. Against Denver, four turnovers and a general sagging in overall energy were responsible for the defeat. This might make it tough on the Chargers, in a tough road-spot against a Steelers team that will be eager to put the funk of the past few weeks behind them.
Big Test for The Chargers “D”
This will be a good litmus-test for the Chargers’ defense. With Ben Roethlisberger slinging it to Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and with James Conner doing a good job running and catching the ball, the Chargers will be up against it in this tough road-spot. But they have a lot of weapons and we’ll see this week if they can be the defense the Chargers will need to make a big move this season.
Chargers’ defensive end Joey Bosa is back and with two sacks last week, gives opposing offenses even more to worry about. Melvin Ingram is also a handful for quarterbacks, with Jatavis Brown a menace in the middle. The secondary is a playmaking one that can be quite stout—a tremendous matchup for the vital Steelers air-attack. Guys like Casey Hayward, Jahleel Addae, Derwin James, and others look to make life tough on Big Ben and Company. In the last 7 games, only one team has surpassed 20 points on the Bolts and that was just 23 points by the Broncos a few weeks ago.
The Balance of Both Teams
Each team does a lot well. The Chargers can run the ball nicely with Gordon leading the way. The Steelers have gotten a nice boost with the play of James Conner. Both men are also useful pass-catchers. Philip Rivers was 28-for-29 on Sunday, making good use of a varied aerial-game, another thing that Pittsburgh is good at. On defense, both teams are above average against both the run and the pass. Each “D” can make plays, with both teams applying a steady pass-rush, with the Steelers being a bit more consistent, while the Chargers’ secondary makes more big plays.
Who do the Conditions Favor?
On one level, it’s hard to say the Chargers. It’s December in Pittsburgh at night, meaning the Chargers will be feeling some weather for the first time this season. The Steelers are coming off a loss and with the division tightening and some recent iffy showings, the Steelers look to be at a fever-pitch in terms of getting this back on the right track. But the Chargers aren’t even leading their division as the Steelers are, meaning they still have some ground to cover. And a spotlight-game victory on the road over a good Steelers team would be a win that would serve notice.
Take the Points on the Road Underdog
I think the Steelers have been in softer matchups in recent weeks than the Chargers. That’s especially true when it comes to facing balanced and potent offenses. The Chargers wield more threats on the Pittsburgh “D” than what they are recently accustomed. The same applies for the Chargers, but with games against the Rams and Chiefs, they’ve seen similar. Whatever the case, I see the Chargers as being a pretty decent value-pick here getting points.