This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Chargers and Broncos in their week 13 match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Los Angeles Chargers 8-3 at Pittsburgh Steelers 7-3-1
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 820pm ET Sunday December 2nd, 2018
Weather: 52 degrees at kickoff and partly cloudy
Line: Steelers -3.5
Last Week: The Chargers defeated the Cardinals 45-10 while the Steelers lost at Denver 24-17.
TV: NBC Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya on the sidelines
TV Coverage in Your Area: National TV Game
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Bill Vinovich
Key Injuries: PIT: CB Cameron Sutton (Personal) – Questionable, S Morgan Burnett (back) – Doubtful
LB Bud Dupree (Pectoral) – Questionable, OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee) – Out LAC: NT Brandon Mebane (Not Injury Related) – Out, RB Melvin Gordon (Knee) – Out, WR Tyrell Williams (Quad) – Questionable, OT Joe Barksdale (Not Injury Related) – Out
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 4th LAC 6th Passing Offense: PIT 2nd, LAC 10th Rushing Offense: PIT 27th, LAC 8th
Total Defense: PIT 6th, LAC 9th Passing Defense: PIT 6th, LAC 7th Rushing Defense: PIT 9th, LAC 13th
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 7-3-1 Baltimore 6-5, Cincinnati 5-6, Cleveland 4-6-1
This Week in the AFC North: Browns at Texans 1pm, Broncos at Bengals 1pm, Ravens at Falcons 1pm
What You Need to Know: Ben Roethlisberger thrown for at least 250 yards and a touchdown in each of the Steelers’ first 11 games in 2018, a franchise record for consecutive games with at least 250 passing yards and a touchdown pass… He also ranks fourth all-time in the number of 400 yard passing games (12)… Antonio Brown joined Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt as the only receivers in NFL history to have 800 receptions inside of their first nine seasons… James Conner has 49 receptions in his Steelers’ career tying him for sixth all-time with Merril Hoge and Frenchy Fuqua.
What’s at Stake: The Chargers have pulled to within one game of the division-leading Chiefs whom they’ll visit in two weeks. The Steelers have just a one game lead in the win column over Baltimore. Needless to say, this is a big game for both teams who very likely could meet again in the playoffs should the current positions hold.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 22-17 and lead 14-1 in Pittsburgh
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 333 yards 10/4/2009, Chargers Dan Fouts 372 yards 12/8/1985 RUSHING: Steelers Rashard Mendenhall 165 10/4/2009, Chargers Gary Anderson 170 12/11/1988 RECEIVING: Steelers Charles Johnson 165 12/24/1994, Chargers Kellen Winslow 171 12/22/1980
Last (Regular Season) Meeting: Oct 12, 2015 in San Diego. Steelers 24 Chargers 20
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Pressure Up the Middle. Did you see what happened to Drew Brees Thursday night in Dallas? It isn’t just him that struggles with intense pocket pressure from the middle. Philip Rivers is not the most mobile guy in the pocket either and with the Steelers being potentially thin at OLB, getting pressure from the inside is paramount. This could likely get a big boost if Stephon Tuitt. Javon Hargrave has played better and better with each passing week and Cam Heyward just keeps doing what he does. Rivers’ quick release will allow him to get the ball out quickly and that’s OK. If he’s getting rid of it to avoid sacks then that leads to throw-aways and potential turnovers.
Get Conner Involved Early. I don’t need to go back over the last two weeks for you and neither does James Conner. That said, getting him off to a good start would be great for his confidence and the team’s overall confidence as well. We all know what he’s capable of doing so get the ball in his hands early and let him re-establish himself as both a runner and a pass catcher.
Defensive Clean-Up. You saw T.J. Watt and Coty Sensabaugh going at it on the sidelines Sunday just like I did. You also saw guys on the field looking around at each other an awful lot with total looks of uncertainty. Many of us thought the defense was past this point in the season but apparently not. To make matters worse, the defense is facing a very good, veteran QB who will take advantage of their lack of communication. It isn’t just in the secondary though. The linebackers have to do their part in making sure everyone knows just what is going on one play to the next. Lapses this week will be costly.
Prediction: The Steelers are traditionally good coming off of losses. They are also very good in Primetime games at home which this one is. I suspect the Steelers were beaten over the head this week with “not beating yourself” and “take care of the damn football.” I also think they realize that this is a potential playoff opponent too and sending a message is important. Look for a game that has some odd twists and turns. Steelers 29 Chargers 24
Season Prediction Record: 8-3