Chargers vs Steelers – NFL Picks and Parlays 12/2/18
Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers will be in the playoffs when this regular season concludes. But seeding will be fully on the line when the two teams get together on Sunday Night Football.
Pittsburgh is a 3-point home favorite at MyBookie in this matchup between two of the top teams in the AFC.
The LA Chargers are averaging 6.8 yards per play this season, tied for second in the NFL. They are seventh in the NFL in scoring offense, averaging 27.9 points per game. What makes that average impressive is that they didn’t run up a huge point total against the lowly Raiders during their matchup to inflate their average. They have just been a consistently high-level offense.
Los Angeles is tied for third in the league in rushing average, moving the ball for five yards per carry on the season. However, they will be without their top rusher in this game - Melvin Gordon will be out with a knee ligament injury, which means that they will be getting the ball to Austin Ekeler more. Ekeler has been great in his change of pace role this season, and could make it so that the Chargers don’t miss Gordon much.
Anthony Lynn’s team is fourth in the league in passing average as well, as they have averaged 8.6 yards per pass attempt this year. That isn’t as high a number as the number of kids that Philip Rivers has, but it is an impressive average nonetheless. The Chargers have explosive options at wide receiver, and Rivers has been able to connect with his targets at every level of the defense.
On defense, the Chargers are tied for tenth in the league by giving up an average of 5.5 yards per play. They are tied for 14th in the league, allowing 4.4 yards per carry and seventh in the league by allowing 6.7 yards per pass attempt.
The pass rush of the Chargers will be the key to this game. You can’t afford to let Ben Roethlisberger have all day to throw the ball to his top targets. If the Chargers can limit his time to throw, they could make it another long day for the Steelers offense.
Steelers Week 13 Outlook
Pittsburgh averages 6.3 yards per play this season, which is good for sixth in the NFL. They are also sixth in the league in scoring average, putting up 28.7 points per game. The Steelers seem to have gotten over the Le’Veon Bell situation and have their offense fully on track, with a few exceptions.
On the ground, the Steelers are tied for 16th in the NFL with an average of 4.3 yards per carry. James Conner got a lot of praise for his play early this season, but has tailed off a bit. The Steelers aren’t breaking the door down to get Le’Veon Bell back, but they could use some increased production in the running game.
Ben Roethlisberger has his team averaging 7.5 yards per pass attempt, which is the eighth best average in the league in that category. When you have the best wide receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown, you are going to have an easier time throwing the ball than you would without him. But Big Ben has been great going to all of his targets, with Juju Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald rising to the top of their respective positions.
Defensively, the Steelers have been elite this season, giving up 5.1 yards per play and sitting in a tie for fourth in the league in that area. The concern for the Steelers this year was the defense, as it looked like Pittsburgh hadn’t found a way to make up for the loss of Ryan Shazier. But their pass rush has made up for it in a big way
Mike Tomlin’s team is tied for tenth in the league in rushing defense, allowing 4.2 yards per carry to their opponents, while their 6.2 yards per pass attempt allowed is the fourth best average in the league. The Chargers might throw the ball more than usual this year without Gordon being available, but underestimating the running game with Ekeler leading the Chargers could be dangerous for the Steelers.
The Steelers are in the hunt for home field advantage still, but last week’s loss to the Broncos put them behind the Patriots for the second seed in AFC. At home, this could be one of their biggest games of the season, as going to New England or Kansas City in the divisional round would be dangerous.
Chargers vs. Steelers Trends
The Chargers come into this game at 8-3 straight up on the season and 6-5 against the spread. Los Angeles is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games, and has covered the spread in four of their last five contests on the road. But in their last eight games following a win against the spread, the Chargers are just 2-6 against the spread, and they are coming off of a win against the spread last week here.
Pittsburgh enters this matchup at 7-3 straight up and 6-4 against the spread for the year. In their last six games following a straight up loss, the Steelers are 6-0 against the spread. Mike Tomlin’s team is also 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven games as a whole, with their only loss against the spread in that stretch coming last week after their upset loss to the Broncos.
The injury to Melvin Gordon is overvalued in this spot, as the Chargers have proven that they can move the ball without him. And given the Steelers’ struggles against high level pass rushes, they could get off to a slow start in this game even if they end up winning in the end.