San Diego Chargers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2 SU,
0-3 ATS), 8:20 p.m. EST, Sunday Night Football, October 4th, 2009, Heinz Field,
Pittsburgh, Pa., TV: NBC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Chargers +6.5/Steelers -6.5
The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers will try and
get back on track against another strong AFC opponent this weekend
when the San Diego Chargers travel across the country for a showdown at Heinz Field on NBCs Sunday Night Football in America.
The Steelers are off to a disappointing 1-2 start this season, and
nearly an 0-3 start if not for an overtime victory over the Titans in
the NFL season kickoff special. The champs Steel Curtain defense
allowed an uncharacteristic 14 points in the fourth quarter last
weekend to the Cincinnati Bengals, the final seven coming with 18
seconds left in the game, and the end result was an embarrassing
23-20 loss to their AFC North rival Bengals.
The Chargers have also struggled a little out of the gate in 2009,
but thanks to an easier opening schedule they are still 2-1 on the
season. The Chargers defense knocked quarterback Chad Pennington out
of the game and took advantage of a struggling offense behind his
replacement Chad Henne in their 23-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins
This game has seen a lot of line movement in regards to the point
spread all week, so that should make it even more exciting for
gamblers to watch on Sunday to see if theyre on the right side of
the movement. The Steelers originally opened as just 5-point
favorites at home, but early wagering pushed the number up to
Steelers minus 6.5 at most books and even a few full-touchdown
minus-7s at a few offshore sportsbooks.
The over/under total has also moved multiple points in the week, opening at 41 and climbing up to 43 or even 43.5 depending on which house you wager with for football.
The media and fans in Pittsburgh are starting to rumble, and its
mainly because the Steelers once powerful running game has been
stuffed so far this season. Running back Willie Parker (questionable this week with turf toe) has yet to
have a 100-yard game, and the team as a whole ranks 27th in the NFL
right now at just 81 yards per game. Head coach Mike Tomlin vowed to
get back to Steeler football this week, so look for them to feed it
to Parker or whoever is in the backfield (Mendenhall or Moore) for more than 20 carries this week.
The lack of a running game is also hurting the Chargers on offense as well, as an injury to Ladainian Tomlinson has forced all of the
action to Darren Sproles and as a result the Chargers are 31st in the
league at 66.3 yards a game. The good news is that quarterback
Phillip Rivers and receiver Vincent Jackson have blossomed into one
of the games top combinations in the air during, as Jackson has had
three-straight 100-yard receiving games and Rivers has had three 300-
yard passing games too. As a whole, the Chargers are 2nd in the
league at 315.7 yards in the air a game.
As mentioned, the Steelers top-ranked defense from a season ago has
been bending a little more this season. Overall they are still top-10
(8th 289.3), but without safety Troy Polamalu in the lineup the
secondary has been torched a little in his absence (213 ypg 15th).
You can fully expect Rivers to try and take advantage of his absence
this week too.
The Chargers defense has had issues stopping the run this season (142.3 ypg 26th), and Tomlin has already gone on record as saying
hes going back to Steeler football, so expect a heavy dose of Parker
on Sunday night. It should make life easier for Ben Roethlisberger
too, even though the Chargers boast a top-10 secondary (174.7 ypg
Most of the head-to-head action between these two teams has been
dominated by the Steelers, including last year in the playoffs when
the Steelers beat the Bolts, 35-24, in the Divisional round. The
Steelers also won the regular-season matchup versus the Bolts last
year in that strange, 11-10 final-score game back in early November.
Both games were played at Heinz Field.
Overall, Pittsburgh has won six of the last seven and 7 of the last
10 matchups with San Diego, including a 5-0 mark at home in
Pennsylvania (dating back to the 1995 season).
The Steelers also enjoy a 6-4 ATS record in those same 10 games,
including a cover last year in the playoff game as (ironically) 6.5-
point favorites, and a cover back in 2003 as (tah-dah) 6.5-point
favorites in a 40-24 victory.
The under has gone 6-4 through the years, and is 3-1 since the 2005
season when these two get together on the gridiron. But its actually
the over that has the stronger betting trends associated with it, as
the over is 18-6-2 in San Diegos last 26 road games and its also
14-5 in the Steelers last 19 games versus an AFC opponent.
Badgers Pick: All of the line movement in this game during the week
is scaring me away from putting too much coin on this one. But that
said, I think it will be an offensive game due to the fact that both
defenses are vulnerable to the other teams offensive strength. This
game goes over the total late, backdoor style, so take the over of 43.
Z-Man’s Pick: I like the Steelers to cover their first game against the spread this season.