As expected, the spread has jumped from an opening of 3.5 points to 5.5 to 6.5 across the boards in the wake of the Steelers’ tie with winless Detroit along with the uncertain status of Pittsburgh’s starting QB.
NFL · Sun (11/21) @ 8:22pm ET
|PIT Steelers||at||LA Chargers|
|SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CO|
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1, 3-6 ATS) At LA Chargers (5-4, 5-4 ATS)
DraftKings line: Chargers by 5.5 (47)
The skinny: The outcome could be determined by the team that enters play with the fewest absences by key players due to injury and/or being on the reserve/COVID list.
Facts: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder/COVID), who missed last week’s 16-16 home tie vs. Detroit, remains listed as questionable. If he can’t go, it will be Mason Rudolph for the second straight week. Against the Lions, he directed a 10-play, 83-yard TD march on Pittsburgh’s first drive but then only three FGs on the team’s final 12 non-kneel-down possessions against the league’s 28th-ranked defense.
This will be the Steelers’ first trip to the West Coast since a visit to LA to face the Chargers in Week 6 of 2019. Big Ben didn’t play then, either, with “Duck” Hodges leading the way in a 24-17 victory as a 6-point road dog. Hodges is playing in Canada these days.
Another key performer for Pittsburgh, standout safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, is almost surely out (illness). And both starting guards are questionable dealing with ankle injuries. AND, sack specialist T.J. Watt skipped drills Wednesday with a hip injury.
The Chargers, meanwhile, have a host of issues on defense that’s the worst in the league at stopping the run, allowing 155.1 yards a game.
The big question in LA is whether edge rusher Joey Bosa (5.5 sacks) will be able to play after being put on the reserve/COVID list for contact tracing. The earliest he could be deemed eligible to play is Saturday. Also, DE Jerry Tillery tested positive and will need some negative tests and DL Linval Joseph is wrestling with a shoulder injury.
Analysis: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said at midweek he’s been preparing Rudolph to be the starter but is “keeping the light on” for Big Ben. That doesn’t sound encouraging for an offense that has issues at both guard spots, and that’s not going to be good news for RB Najee Harris.
On defense, high-fives to the Steelers for holding Detroit QB Jared Goff to 77 net passing yards last week. But what’s with the Lions rushing for 229 yards, their highest total in three years. And if Watt doesn’t play in addition to Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh will be hurting figuratively and literally.
The Chargers should flourish with QB Justin Herbert connecting with Keenan Allen, tied for third with 65 receptions, and all-purpose RB Austin Ekeler causing trouble all over. And the gamble inside the gamble is that Bosa will indeed play.
Steelers At Chargers Pick
Chargers 28, Steelers 14
Last week: 4-10 ATS, 4-9-1 SU
Season total: 71-76-3 (.483) ATS; 89-60-1 (.597) SU