Week 11 is upon us and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers are heading west to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Here’s everything you need to know about the contest.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1) at LA Chargers (5-4)
Where: SoFi Stadium Los Angeles, California
When: 815pm ET Sunday November 21st, 2021
Weather: 67 degrees and clear. The Stadium isn’t “technically” a dome but it’s mostly covered.
Line: Steelers +5.5 O/U 47.5
Last Week: Last week the Chargers lost at home 27-20 to the Minnesota Vikings. The Steelers meanwhile tied the Detroit Lions 16-all at Heinz Field.
TV: NBC Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analysis), Michele Tafoya (sideline)
TV Coverage in Your Area: This is a national TV audience.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley with Missi Matthews and Max Starks on the sidelines. (RIP Tunch Ilkin)
Head Official: Carl Cheffers. The sales manager is in his 14th season as the head official of his crew. This will be his first Steelers’ game of 2021. Oddly enough the last game Cheffers oversaw involving the Steelers was week two of 2019 was week two against Seattle. His crew is averaging between 15 and 20 flags per game.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: CB Joe Haden (Foot) – Out, OL Kevin Dotson (Ankle) – Out
LB T.J. Watt (Hip/Knee) – Out, DE Isaiahh Loudermilk (Groin) – Out LAC: S Alohi Gilman (Quadricep) – Doubtful
RB Justin Jackson (Quadricep) – Questionable, DL Linval Joseph (Shoulder) – Doubtful, DB Trey Marshal (Ankle) – Questionable, DB Mark Webb Jr. (Knee) – Doubtful
Injury Notes: Ben Roethlisberger passed through Covid-19 protocols and will start for the Steelers on Sunday… Minkah Fitzpatrick is out due to Covid-19.
2021 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 24th LAC 10th Passing Offense: PIT 17th LAC 7th Rushing Offense: PIT 26th LAC 21st
Total Defense: PIT 13th LAC 17th Passing Defense: PIT 9th LAC 4th Rushing Defense: PIT 25th LAC 32nd
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 6-3, Pittsburgh 5-3-1, Cincinnati 5-4, Cleveland 5-5
This Week in the AFC North: Baltimore at Chicago 1pm, Detroit at Cleveland 1pm, Cincinnati at Las Vegas 4:05pm
What You Need to Know: The last two times the Steelers played at the Chargers they won behind quarterbacks Michael Vick and Duck Hodges… Minkah Fitzpatrick is fourth in the NFL with 11 missed tackles… Chris Boswell has made 15 of his 18 career attempts from beyond 50 yards… The Steelers are 30-25 all-time on Sunday Night Football… They have only won three of their last eight SNF games… Pittsburgh is 20-40 on the West Coast (Pacific Time Zone)… They’ve won two of their last ten out West but both wins were against the Chargers… Pittsburgh has 32 starts by offensive rookies this season which is the most of any NFL team in 2021… Mike Tomlin is 4-2 all-time against the Chargers…
LA Chargers Names to Know: QB Justin Herbert, WR Keenan Allen, S Derwin James, RB Austin Ekeler, WR Mike Williams, LB Kenneth Murray, CB Asante Samuel, Jr
What’s at Stake: Both teams play in two of the most competitive divisions in football. The Chargers need a win to keep pace with the other three teams out west while the Steelers need a win to do the same in the AFC North.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 24-10 and lead all-time on the road (LA/San Diego) 9-6.
Last Meeting: October 2019 in Los Angeles. Steelers 24 Chargers 17
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on this game.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Run the Damn Ball. That’s it. That’s all I need to say. The Chargers rank 32nd in the NFL against the run. Don’t overthink this Matt Canada. Turn and hand the ball to Najee Harris.
2. Stepping Up. The Steelers have guys on both sides of the ball who are out. These aren’t just any guys though. Joe Haden and T.J. Watt aren’t ‘replaceable’ but the guys who replace them must be competent. Taco Charlton and Derek Tuszka don’t have to be great, they just have to do their jobs. Set the edge against the run and create enough pressure to be a pain in Justin Herbert’s ass. James Pierre has shown improvement each week of the season and that will need to continue Sunday Night. On the offensive line, Kevin Dotson is out and it seems likely that will either be JC Hassenauer or B.J. Finney. Whomever it is needs to protect the quarterback and be a road grader in the run game.
3. Special Teams Needs to Be Special. If you graded the entire Special Teams’ unit of the Steelers the only positive aspect of the grade right now would be dedicated entirely to Chris Boswell. The coverage teams are giving up too many yards and the return units are a heart attack waiting to happen with Ray Ray McCloud right now. When you have as many stars missing as the Steelers do then you need Special Teams to help. Danny Smith needs to get his charges right. Block a kick! Get a big return! Force a turnover! Do something positive that affects the game!
Prediction: The last two times the Steelers played the Chargers on the road they were victorious behind QBs named Michael Vick and Duck Hodges. This has the feel of one of those games but my concern level is higher than usual. The Steelers run defense has been wildly inconsistent and the offense hasn’t been any different. The return of Big Ben and Chase Claypool should help but Minkah Fitzpatrick out with Covid scares the crap out of me from a secondary aspect. That is why I think this game doesn’t go our way.
Chargers 27 Steelers 17
Season Prediction Record: 5-4