Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2 SU, 3-0-1 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, October 12, 2015 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
By Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PIT +3/SD -3
Over/Under Total: 45
The Pittsburgh Steelers come out west to face the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football at Qualcomm Stadium. The Steelers are rested after last playing in a Thursday Night Football game, losing a tough one to the Ravens, 23-20 in overtime. It was their first game without Ben Roethlisberger, as he will miss a stretch of games. They blew a 20-7 lead and ran out of luck late against a winless Ravens bunch that was gunning hard for their first win. San Diego evened their record at 2-2 with a last-minute win at home over the Browns on Sunday. Which team can push above the.500 mark this Monday?
Hats off to the Chargers for soldiering through a lot of different things to get to 2-2 to start the year. Its not an impressive 2-2, but it is a hard-earned 2-2. They have endured injuries that would normally take a team 5 years to accumulate. They came into last Sundays game with an offensive line in tatters. They were missing both of their starting corners in Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers, along with safety Jahleel Addae. As if that werent enough, Sunday led to more injuries, with receivers Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson taken out of the game. To get to 2-2 amidst these conditions is a good sign for when the injury big eventually flies the coup.
On Sunday, Philip Rivers overcame shaky protection from up front to pass for 358 yards. RB Melvin Gordon has been unable to get untracked with the O-line in such disarray, as San Diego presses on aerially, with Keenan Allen having another good game and Ladarius Green catching a nice TD pass. He filled in capably, but Rivers now looks forward to the return of longtime battery-mate Antonio Gates, who will be back in the fold for the Steelers game. The depth of the San Diego passing attack has already paid dividends. Against the Browns, Danny Woodhead was huge, with 54 yards rushing and 84 receiving, with a few big plays that were really key in the game.
Still, the Chargers defense was severely tested by the Browns at home, with Josh McCown throwing for 356 yards. Late in the game, the Browns marched right down the field with a late touchdown, converting the two-point conversion to tie the game. Rivers was able to respond on the final drive as he often does, connecting with Green and Allen, before a big Woodhead run put them in position. The first kick sailed right, but they were bailed out by an off-sides call, with rookie kicker Josh Lambo getting it done on the second attempt.
There was both good and bad to take away from Pittsburghs loss to Baltimore on Thursday. Michael Vick may not have the same capacity for magic that he once had, but he can still play. Against Baltimore, he took what the game gave him, avoided mistakes, and did a pretty capable job. They didnt catch any breaks, with now-former Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missing a few makeable field goals that would have made the game a different story and wed be talking about a 3-1 Steelers team. All in all, it was a pretty bitter loss. Pittsburgh now moves ahead with a new kicker and will give it another shot in San Diego on Monday.
Vick made the throws he was supposed to, while putting his still-lively legs to good use. It wasnt his fault the Steelers came up short. The bottom-line is that they have a vast arsenal of tools on the Pittsburgh offense and Vick cant really put them all to good use. While LeVeon Bell figures to continue to produce with his short-pass receiving skills and vicious running, the deeper threats will be muted until Big Ben returns. Antonio Brown had a quiet game, as did the rest of a deep cast of receivers who Vick was unable to reach with regularity. Look for a more-customized approach on Monday, with more of an effort made to exploit a banged-up San Diego secondary that isnt even that great when totally healthy.
Defensively, Pittsburgh showed an increased pass-rush, something they might want to double up on this week with the Chargers offensive line in bad shape. The Steelers defense has seen its share of issues and lack of consistency so far this season, but theyve been pretty clutch, even managing to stop the Ravens on two key 4th-quarter fourth-down plays and holding firm until they couldnt hold any longer in overtime, as the Steelers offense stagnated. But this is a defense that is capable of stepping up in crucial points in the game.
On Thursday, the Steelers were perhaps stymied by the play-calling. After all, Vick was trying to find his bearings and they tried to have him make big runs on key 4th down plays in overtime, as Tomlin had lost faith in the kicker. The plays were unimaginative and whereas they handcuffed Vick for most of the game, they tried to have him run in short-yardage situations with predictable plays. A lot of people thought it was the coaching that led to the loss and they may have a point.
Neither team enters week 5 at full-power. The Chargers are missing players from seemingly every phase of the team. And the Steelers without Roethlisberger are a shadow of themselves offensively. Can they even exploit the Chargers depreciated secondary? Look for both teams to give it a special effort in a big MNF game where the winner goes above .500 and can go into the following week with a high sense of hope, while the loser goes into a 2-3 hole. I see the Chargers being a little closer to themselves this week, as they get another hard-earned win.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego Chargers minus 3 points.
Additional NFL Football Betting Previews