Week 14: San Diego Chargers At Pittsburgh Steelers
- QuarterbackPhilip Rivers is a talented quarterback but an erratic leader. The Chargers are almost certainly going to clean house in the offseason and they may be tempted to move Rivers because he seems frustrated in his position. Rivers can make all the throws, but he is an angry leader and his team has lost seven of eight games.The Steelers are hoping Ben Roethlisberger can return from his rib injury for this game. However, they are coming off their most inspired effort of the season in beating the Ravens 23-20 with Charlie Batch at quarterback. While Batch was awful in the Week 12 loss at Cleveland, he bounced back by completing 25-of-36 for 276 yards in Week 13.
- OffenseThe running game was productive early in the year, but the Chargers are not getting much from Ryan Matthews at this point in the season. That puts even more pressure on Rivers and his receivers. Danario Alexander can go downfield and make plays and he is coming off a 102-yard receiving game against the Bengals in Week 13. Malcolm Floyd is also dependable, but Rivers does not always get the ball to him.The Steelers can move the ball on the ground, but they can also leave it on the ground as well. That’s what happened in the Week 12 loss to the Browns, but they rebounded by holding on to it against the hard-hitting Ravens. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are hard-nosed backs who will initiate contact. Mike Wallace can be gamebreaking receiver while tight end Heath Miller will catch everything he can reach.
- DefenseThe Chargers often play well defensively for long spurts, but fall apart when the game is on the line. That was the case once again in Week 13 when they held Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to 211 passing yards. However, they gave up 10 points in the final five minutes and the Chargers lost again. Defensive back Corey Lynch had 10 tackles and an interception against the Bengals.As good as the Steeler defense has been, it can’t do the job without a complementary offense. The Steelers got a lift in their Week 13 upset at Baltimore with the return of Troy Polamalu. The All-Pro defensive back had missed the previous seven games with a calf injury. He should be much stronger against the Chargers. The Steelers have the top-ranked defense in the league.
- Special TeamsNick Novak has been solid for the Chargers since replacing the departed Nate Kaeding. Novak has made 13-of-15 FG attempts this season. Punter Mike Scifres has above average leg strength and averaged 46.0 yards on five punts against the Bengals.The Steelers have gotten a solid performance from placekicker Shaun Suisham this year and he was at his best in the Week 13 win over the Ravens. He was 3-of-3 on his FG attempts – all over 40 yards – including the game-winning 42-yarder with no time left on the clock. Punter Drew Butler averaged 38.5 yards on four punts against the Ravens.
The Steelers are simply a much tougher team than the Chargers. San Diego can’t handle the lead late in the game and they regularly make key errors in the second half of most games. The Steelers are battling hard to overcome previous injuries and they will likely punish the Chargers whether Roethlisberger is at full strength or they have to go with Batch once again.