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In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Steelers vs. Chargers Prediction

Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 8:20pm EDT
Stub Hub Center, Carson

This article covers a past game!

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In-depth Coverage

This is an in-depth analysis of this game, covering every possible detail and angle. Use the table of contents to navigate between each section, or just jump on in!

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Table of Contents

Last Updated: Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 3:11pm EDT

Introduction

A pair of teams that have been perennial AFC playoff contenders over the last decade meet out on the West Coast in search of a victory. The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the road as they make the trip to face the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday night. Pittsburgh comes in off a 26-23 overtime loss at home to Baltimore in an AFC North clash last Sunday. Los Angeles was upended 20-13 at home against the previously winless Broncos last Sunday in an AFC West battle. The Steelers own a 22-8 advantage in the all-time regular season series but the Chargers claimed a 33-30 road win in the last matchup on December 2, 2018.

Pittsburgh Steelers Review

Pittsburgh has been dealing with injury issues and things have progressed in a downward direction as the season has worn on. The Steelers ended up on the short end of the stick in overtime against the Ravens to drop to 1-4 on the season: they stand third in the AFC North, two games behind Baltimore and ahead of only Cincinnati. In the contest, Pittsburgh could be down to their third-string quarterback this week: Ben Roethlisberger went on injured reserve with an elbow injury in week 2 and Mason Rudolph is in the concussion protocol after getting belted in the third quarter against Baltimore. That potentially turns the reins of the offense over to Devlin Hodges, who would make his first NFL start should he get the call.

The Steelers battled despite having injury problems and their lack of experience under center only to fall short in the extra session. Pittsburgh led 23-20 before giving up a game-tying field goal with 10 seconds to play in regulation. After Baltimore punted, the Steelers fumbled the ball on their possession, setting up the Ravens for the game-winning field goal. Pittsburgh was solid enough defensively as they were outgained 277-269 in the contest: they lost the first down battle 22-18 and the time of possession by a 39:00 to 25:34 margin. The Steelers did force three turnovers while committing two but the one in overtime was the one that mattered the most.

Los Angeles Chargers Review

Los Angeles struggled early in the game, getting blanked in the first half, and their inability to get points on the board left them too deep a hole to dig out of against the previously winless Broncos. The Chargers now hope to regroup and pick up a win at home to even their mark: at 2-3, they are third in the AFC West, two games behind the Chiefs. Los Angeles saw Melvin Gordon take the field for the first time since ending his holdout but he was held in check. How the Chargers work him and Austin Ekeler together, especially given Ekeler’s strong showing so far, is going to be interesting to watch.

The Chargers dug themselves into a 14-0 hole after one quarter and 17-0 at the half. Los Angeles didn’t muster an offensive touchdown in the game as their lone touchdown came on a punt return by Desmond King II in the final minute of the third quarter. The Chargers saw the game turn in the second quarter: they drove 39 yards in 12 plays and took 6:07 off the clock only to have a field goal blocked. On their ensuing possession, with a chance to get back in the game, they drove 14 plays and 74 yards while taking up 5:17 only to have Ekeler fumble the ball out of bounds in the end zone to end the first half. Los Angeles was outgained 350-246 in the contest despite holding a 19-15 edge in first downs and a 30:24 to 29:36 advantage in time of possession. The Chargers turned the ball over three times while committing two in the contest.

The Running Game

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Offense
vs. Los Angeles Chargers Running Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Offense

Pittsburgh, despite having moved on from the whole Le’Veon Bell fiasco that plagued them all of last season, have been unable to do much with the ground game this season. The Steelers have yet to even hit the 90-yard mark in a game this season as the run game has been neutralized. Pittsburgh started the season with 13 carries for 32 yards in the season opener against the Patriots. Things haven’t been much better: they had 16 carries for a season-high 81 yards against the Seahawks in week 2, 22 times for 79 yards against San Francisco in week 3 and 25 carries for 66 yards against the Bengals in week 4. Last week against the Ravens, the ground game picked up 77 yards on 19 carries, just the second time in five games where they averaged better than four yards per carry.

James Conner has been bottled up all season long despite leading the team in rushing yards. He has run the ball 58 times for 190 yards and two scores on the season. Jaylen Samuels has 18 carries for 50 yards plus a score but is out currently after knee surgery that he had this week: he could miss a month. That pushes Benny Snell Jr. (six carries, 30 yards) into a more relevant role in the offense. Pittsburgh has three run plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: Conner, Devlin Hodges (two carries, 20 yards) and Snell Jr. each have one. The Steelers have picked up 19 first downs via the ground game this season.

Los Angeles Chargers Run Defense

Los Angeles struggled against the ground game in the opener, turned in three straight solid outings, and then sputtered again last week. The Chargers get a bit of a break as they face a Pittsburgh team that hasn’t been able to do much with the run game so far this season. Los Angeles was torched for 33 carries for 203 yards and a score by the Colts in the opener. The Chargers were tough against the Lions (28 carries, 94 yards) in week 2, the Texans (19 carries, 39 yards, TD) in week 3 and the Dolphins (18 carries, 72 yards) in week 4. Last week against Denver, Los Angeles was gouged for 191 yards and a score on 32 carries.

Thomas Davis Sr. leads the team with 41 tackles (20 solo) this season. Joey Bosa (25 tackles), corner Brandon Facyson (21 tackles), Roderic Teamer (20 tackles) and linebacker Kyzer White (18 tackles) are among the team leaders in tackles. Bosa leads the team with six tackles for loss while Desmond King II (15 tackles) and Uchenna Nwosu (16 tackles) each have 3.5 tackles for loss this season. Melvin Ingram III (14 tackles) has three tackles for loss this season. As a team, the Chargers have 25 tackles for loss, forced five fumbles and recorded two fumble recoveries on the season.

Stats

PIT

  • 25th in run play percentage (35.19 percent)
  • 28th in rushing attempts per game (19)
  • 29th in rushing yards per game (67)
  • 27th in yards per carry (3.5)
  • Tied for 20th in rushing TD (three)
  • 28th in longest rush (23 yards)

LAC

  • 29th in percentage of run plays against (49.63 percent)
  • 19th in run plays per game against (26)
  • 18th in rushing yards allowed per game (119.8)
  • 19th in opposing yards per carry (4.6)
  • Tied for 6th in rushing TD allowed (three)
  • 24th in longest rush allowed (63 yards)

Who has the Edge?

Pittsburgh's ground game has yet to take off and with the loss of Samuels for the short term, it's going to make things that much more difficult. Conner has been kept in check all season and while some of that is due to the lack of cohesiveness at quarterback, the fact remains that he's not doing much in the production department. Los Angeles had three solid weeks against the run sandwiched by getting gashed by the Colts and Broncos. That's not likely to happen here as the Steelers have struggled to generate the run all season long.

Advantage: Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers Running Offense
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Running Defense

Los Angeles Chargers Running Offense

Los Angeles started the season strong on the ground but has seen things taper off in the last few weeks. The Chargers will look to try and reestablish their presence in the run game here. Los Angeles ran the ball 21 times for 125 yards plus a score in their opener against the Colts and followed that up by posting 25 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. Since them the Chargers have run the ball 18 times for 73 yards against Houston, 33 times for only 79 yards plus a score against Miami and 16 times for only 35 yards against the Broncos last week.

Austin Ekeler has been the lead back so far this season as he has 59 carries for 227 yards and three scores this season. Justin Jackson has run the ball 18 times for 142 yards while Melvin Gordon, who held out until returning to the team before Week 4, saw his first action against Denver in Week 5. He has 12 carries for just 31 yards on the year while Philip Rivers (six carries, 24 yards) can run on rare occasions. The Chargers have three run plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season, all of which have come by Jackson. Los Angeles has moved the chains 24 times via the run game this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers Run Defense

Pittsburgh has had their struggles stopping the ground game by the opposition as they have allowed more than 125 yards three times this season. The Steelers gave up 99 yards on 29 carries in their opener against the Patriots. That was followed by allowing 33 carries for 151 yards and a score to Seattle in week two and 40 carries for 168 yards plus two touchdowns to San Francisco in week three. The Steelers had their best game of the season so far against the Bengals, giving up 73 yards on 19 carries in week 4. Last week against the Ravens, Pittsburgh saw Baltimore run the ball 40 times for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Linebacker Devin Bush has made a major impact defensively as the 10th overall pick leads the team with 45 tackles (28 solo) and three fumble recoveries this season. Terrell Edmunds (37 tackles), Mark Barron (29 tackle, fumble recovery), Joe Haden (27 tackles) and Cameron Heyward (25 tackles, forced fumble) are among the team leaders in tackles this season. Stephon Tuitt (22 tackles) and T.J. Watt (17 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries) each have 6.5 tackles for loss while Heyward has 5.5 on the year. As a team, the Steelers have recorded 39 tackles for loss, forced four fumbles and recovered six this season.

Stats

LAC

  • 24th in run play percentage (35.42 percent)
  • 23rd in rushing attempts per game (22.6)
  • 24th in rushing yards per game (89.8)
  • 19th in yards per carry (four)
  • Tied for 20th in rushing TD (three)
  • Tied for 16th in longest rush (40 yards)

PIT

  • 27th in percentage of run plays against (46.13 percent)
  • 30th in run plays per game against (32.2)
  • 21st in rushing yards allowed per game (125.8)
  • 9th in opposing yards per carry (3.9)
  • Tied for 11th in rushing TD allowed (four)
  • Tied for 12th in longest rush allowed (37 yards)

Who has the Edge?

The Chargers' run game hasn't taken off as one would have hoped this season. While Ekeler has been effective, he's more dangerous as a receiver than he has been between the tackles. Gordon didn't move the needle much in his first game action after holding out the first three weeks of the season. Pittsburgh has limited three of their five opponents under four yards a carry, including holding Baltimore to 3.45 yards a carry last week. Volume, not big plays, is how teams do damage against the Steelers. That's not something that the Chargers likely commit to given what we've seen this season.

Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Passing Game

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense
vs. Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense

Pittsburgh has tried to move the ball through the air but having injuries to their quarterback group and inconsistent production from their receivers have hampered them this season. The Steelers have to try to get healthy and find a way to develop some chemistry in a hurry if they hope to stay in the mix for a playoff berth. Pittsburgh threw for 276 yards in the opener against the Patriots but things have sputtered a bit since then. The Steelers picked up 187 yards against the Seahawks in week 2, 174 yards against the 49ers in week three and 260 yards against Cincinnati in week four. Last week against the Ravens, Pittsburgh finished with 203 yards through the air.

Ben Roethlisberger was 35 of 62 for 351 yards with no touchdowns and an interception before suffering an elbow injury that ended his season. Mason Rudolph is 63 of 94 for 646 yards with seven touchdowns and two picks: he’s questionable at best here after suffering a concussion in the Baltimore game. Devlin Hodges is seven of nine for 68 yards: he would be the starter should Rudolph not be able to play. Samuels is four of five for 35 yards with an interception running out of the Wildcat formation. JuJu Smith-Schuster leads the team with 24 receptions for 333 yards plus two scores. Conner (19 receptions, 153 yards, TD), Diontae Johnson (18 catches, 198 yards, two TD) and Vance McDonald (13 grabs, 122 yards, two TD) are solid secondary options in the passing game. The Steelers have 13 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards: Smith-Schuster has four while Conner and James Washington (nine catches, 140 yards) both have three.

Update (10/11): Not a surprise, but Hodges will get the nod as the starter. Obviously Rudolph was in concussion protocol after last week's injury and had zero chance of playing. This will be Hodges first-ever start. The product from FCS Samford was an undrafted free agent and was out of a job less than a month ago.

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense

Los Angeles has been pretty solid against the passing game this season. Only one opponent has cracked the 300-yard mark through the air in the first five games: Deshaun Watson and the Texans went for 351 yards in week 3. The Chargers have at least two sacks in four of their five games this season as they continue to make life tough for opposing quarterbacks. Los Angeles has held three of their five opponents under 200 yards through the air this season, including their last two. In week five against Denver, the Chargers limited the Broncos to 182 yards through the air.

Bosa leads the team with three sacks this season. Desmond King II (15 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery) has 2.5 sacks from his cornerback spot while Jerry Tillery (five tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss) has 1.5 sacks to his credit. Casey Hayward Jr. (13 tackles) leads the team with four pass defenses while Michael Davis (three tackles) has two. Hayward Jr., Davis, White and Rayshawn Jenkins (17 tackles, tackle for loss, pass defense) each have one interception to share the team lead. As a team, the Chargers have logged 12 sacks, 11 pass defenses and four interceptions so far this season.

Stats

PIT

  • 8th in pass play percentage (64.81 percent)
  • 18th in completion percentage (64.1)
  • 25th in passing yards per game (213.6)
  • Tied for 14th in TD passes (seven)
  • Tied for 15th in INT thrown (four)
  • 26th in net yards per pass attempt (6.3)
  • 4th in longest pass play (76 yards)
  • 23rd in passer rating (86.4)

LAC

  • 4th in pass play percentage faced (53.07 percent)
  • 8th in passing yards per game allowed (215)
  • 30th in completion percentage allowed (73.3)
  • Tied for 21st in TD passes allowed (nine)
  • Tied for 11th in INT (four)
  • Tied for 17th in sacks (12)
  • 27th in passer rating allowed (108.5)
  • 27th in net yards per pass attempt (eight)

Who has the Edge?

This one is tough to call as it's unclear at this point as to who will be under center for the Steelers in this one. Rudolph is in the concussion protocol and with the team's bye week looming next week, it might be smarter to let him sit to recover. That would thrust Hodges into the spotlight as it would be his first career start. Los Angeles has been effective at limiting the passing game by the opposition so far this season and that could really be a factor here against a Steelers team that may be down to their third-string quarterback. Look for the Chargers to dial up the pressure and make life tough for whoever is running the offense.

Advantage: Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense

Los Angeles has been an effective aerial assault this season as they have the ability to hurt you through the air or on the ground. The Chargers have broken the 300-yard mark through the air three times already this season, The team narrowly missed a fourth 300-yard passing game, totaling 293 in their week two loss on the road to the Lions. Los Angeles is coming off their lowest passing yardage total of the season as the Broncos managed to hold them in check: the Chargers finished with only 211 yards in week 5.

Veteran QB Philip Rivers has completed 133 of 194 pass attempts this season for 1,465 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He has been sacked 11 times, losing 60 yards in the process, this season. Tyrod Taylor completed his lone pass attempt for seven yards on the year. Ekeler has been a force in the passing game, leading the team with 39 receptions (on 41 targets) for 356 yards and three scores this season. Keenan Allen has 38 receptions for 470 yards plus three touchdowns while Mike Williams (14 catches, 231 yards) is the only other player with double-digit receptions on the books so far. The Chargers have 21 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: Allen leads the way with nine. Ekeler, Williams and Dontrelle Inman (eight catches, 132 yards) each have three such receptions.

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense

Pittsburgh had their problems containing the passing game in the first three games of the season before getting things into shape in the last couple of games. The Steelers were torched in the opener, giving up 373 yards through the air to the Patriots in the opener. That was followed by 300 yards to the Seahawks in week two and another 277 yards to San Francisco in week three. Pittsburgh has made life tough the last couple of weeks: they held the Bengals to 171 yards and the Ravens to only 161 yards in week five. The Steelers racked up 13 sacks and four interceptions in the last two games after having only six sacks and two interceptions in their first three games.

T.J. Watt (17 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries), Heyward and Stephon Tuitt (22 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss) each have 3.5 sacks on the season to share the team lead while Bud Dupree (22 tackles, four tackles for loss, forced fumble) has three. Mike Hilton (22 tackles, three tackles for loss) leads the team with three pass defenses. Steven Nelson (21 tackles), Watt, Bush, Dupree, Haden, Cameron Sutton (six tackles, tackle for loss) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (16 tackles, forced fumble) each have two. Watt, Bush, Hilton, Barron, Fitzpatrick and Kameron Kelly (12 tackles, pass defense) each have one interception to share the team lead. As a team, Pittsburgh has recorded 19 sacks, 22 pass defenses and six interceptions this season.

Stats

LAC

  • 9th in pass play percentage (64.58 percent)
  • 8th in completion percentage (68.7)
  • 5th in passing yards per game (282.4)
  • Tied for 14th in TD passes (seven)
  • Tied for 15th in INT thrown (four)
  • 12th in net yards per pass attempt (7.2)
  • 17th in longest pass play (55 yards)
  • 17th in passer rating (94.2)

  • 6th in pass play percentage against (53.87 percent)
  • 12th in passing yards per game allowed (229.8)
  • 24th in completion percentage allowed (69.2)
  • Tied for 15th in TD passes allowed (eight)
  • Tied for 4th in INT (six)
  • 3rd in sacks (19)
  • 18th in passer rating allowed (92.4)
  • 15th in net yards per pass attempt (6.8)

Who has the Edge?

The Chargers have had issues that have impacted their receiving corps, which has taken several key contributors out of the mix at times this season. Ekeler is a dynamic playmaker out of the backfield and he could conceivably line up in the slot as well. The Steelers have their own issues in the secondary as Steven Nelson is battling a groin injury: that could push Artie Burns, who has mainly been on special teams this season, into a starting role. Pittsburgh has an improved pass rush in the last couple of weeks and the Chargers just lost Mike Pouncey to injured reserve with a neck injury. That could impact the Los Angeles passing game as well.

Advantage: Push

Intangibles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh is 22nd in the league in scoring offense as they put up 19.8 points per game on the season. The Steelers are 29th in the league in total offense with 280.6 yards per game and stand 24th in yards per play with 5.2 yards per snap. Pittsburgh is 15th in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of 22.8 points per contest. The Steelers are 16th in total defense as they allow 355.6 yards per game and stand 8th as they give up 5.1 yards per play. Pittsburgh is 5th in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are a +5 on the season.

The Steelers are a dismal 29th in red zone success as they have cashed in 41.67 percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. Pittsburgh is third in red-zone defense as they limit opposing teams to a 38.89 percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns go. Pittsburgh is 29th in the league in third-down conversions as they have converted 28.3 percent of their situations this season. The Steelers are closer to the bottom of the pack in regards to getting off the field as opposing teams have converted 41.79 percent of their third downs, which is 23rd in the league. Pittsburgh is 31st in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 43.31 percent of the time.

Chris Boswell has hit all nine extra point attempts and 10 of 10 field goal attempts with a long of 49 this season. Jordan Berry has averaged 47.3 yards per punt (40.9-yard net average) on 22 punts with a long of 62 this season. He has dropped seven punts inside the 20-yard line with a pair of touchbacks on the year. Ryan Switzer has averaged 18 yards on four kick returns with a long of 26 while he’s averaged 4.7 yards on three punt returns this season. Johnny Holton averages 18.3 yards on three kick returns with a long of 21 while Diontae Johnson had an 11-yard return on his one punt return this season.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are 18th in the league in scoring offense this season as they put up an average of 20.6 points per game on the year. Los Angeles is 13th in total offense as they average 372.2 yards per contest while ranking 11th in yards per play as they pick up 5.8 yards per snap. The Chargers are ninth in the league in scoring defense by allowing 18.8 points per contest. Los Angeles is 11th in the league in total defense by allowing 334.8 yards per game and 23rd in yards per play by allowing six yards per snap. In giveaway/takeaway, the Chargers are tied for 21st with a -2 ratio this season.

The Chargers are in the bottom third of the pack, ranked 24th in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they cash in 47.06 percent of their chances. Defensively, Los Angeles has been struggling as they are 25th in red zone defense by allowing 66.67 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Chargers are in the top tier of the pack in third down conversions, ranking 7th by converting 46.15 percent of their third down situations in addition to two of five fourth downs. Los Angeles’s defense is just 29th in those situations as opposing teams are holding a 46.3 percent success on their third downs. The Chargers are 7th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 52.99 percent of the time this season.

With Michael Badgley still out with a groin injury, the kicking game has been delegated elsewhere. Ty Long hit all nine extra points and five of seven field goal attempts with a long of 51 this season. Chase McLaughlin hit his lone extra point and two of three field goals with a long of 45. Long has averaged 48.3 yards per punt (43.1-yard net average) on 15 punts with a long of 60 this season. He’s dropped seven punts inside the 20-yard line without recording a touchback. King II averages 25 yards on five kickoff returns and 9.9 yards on seven punt returns: he did have a punt return score against the Broncos in week five. Troymaine Pope averages 21.7 yards on his three kickoff returns this season.

Who has the Edge?

Both teams have struggled in the red zone offensively this season and that's got to be a major point of concern going forward. The Steelers have been excellent at stopping opposing teams from putting touchdowns on the board in the red zone though they have given up a fair number of touchdowns from outside the 20. Los Angeles is excellent at controlling the clock and they are far superior when it comes to extending drives by moving the sticks on third down. Pittsburgh has the edge in coaching as Tomlin has Super Bowl rings to his credit as a head coach. The Steelers also have the upper hand in the turnover battle and in the kicking game at this stage of things. At the end of the day, Pittsburgh gets a slight edge here.

Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers

Final Outlook

The biggest factor in this contest is centered around the quarterback situation for the Steelers. Rudolph returned to practice in a limited fashion Wednesday but it's unclear what the status is going to be in this one for him. It's hard enough to win with a young quarterback: it becomes that much harder when the QB is an undrafted free agent who would be making his first start in the case of Hodges. The Chargers are steamed after losing last week's contest and they can't wait to move to an actual home stadium instead of this one in Carson. Los Angeles knows that they need some wins to stay in the playoff picture and facing a beat-up Steelers team could be beneficial.

The Steelers are 7-21-1 ATS in their last 29 road games vs. a team with a losing home record and 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game. The Chargers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games in Week 6, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss. With the injury issues that the Steelers are facing, look for Rivers and the Chargers to get the upper hand here to get back to .500 on the year.

Latest Updates, Injury Reports, and Line Movements

Pittsburgh has a series of injuries to deal with in this contest and that's going to make life difficult for them here. Starting at the top, the Steelers will be down to their third-string QB in Hodges as Rudolph was ruled out Friday with the concussion he sustained against the Ravens last week. In addition, Jaylen Samuels is out after knee surgery while Roosevelt Nix is out again at the fullback spot. In addition, receiver James Washington is out with a shoulder injury, which means Diontae Johnson and the demoted Donte Moncrief get a chance to make an impact.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers have a couple other injuries to deal with here. Mark Barron is out with a hamstring injury, which means Bush likely draws the start at inside linebacker. In addition, corner Steven Nelson is out with a groin issue: either former first-round pick Artie Burns or Mike Hilton, who has been good as a nickel back, will step in and take his place.

Los Angeles has several injury issues to deal with at this point in time. Kicker Michael Badgley remains doubtful with a groin injury, which means Chase McLaughlin likely kicks again here. In addition, Justin Jackson is doubtful, which means more run for Ekeler and Gordon. Tight end Hunter Henry is questionable for this one after practicing fully on Friday. Defensively, Melvin Ingram III is questionable with a hamstring injury while backup safety Nasir Adderley is doubtful with a hamstring.

The weather could end up being a factor in this one depending on whether the rain in the forecast hits. The game-time temperature is expected to be in the mid-50s for this contest with cloudy skies. Winds are expected to come from the north-northeast around 20 miles an hour with gusts up to 30 miles per hour. There is a 45 to 55 percent chance of rain, though that percentage is on the rise as the game wears on. It's something that bears monitoring.

When the initial lines opened for this contest, Los Angeles was a 5.5-point favorite with the over/under set at 43.5 points. As of Saturday afternoon, the line has shifted slightly to the Chargers being a 6.5-point favorite in the contest. The over/under has ticked downward slightly as it has moved to 41.5 points in this contest. Currently, the moneyline shows Los Angeles as a solid -270 to -300 favorite while the Steelers can be found as a +220 to +240 underdog depending on the sportsbook. As of this writing, 63 percent of the bets are backing the Chargers -6.5 points. When it comes to the moneyline, a solid majority, 58 percent of the wagers, are backing the Steelers as the visiting team. Meanwhile, 64 percent of bets are projecting this one to go over the total.

With the Steelers missing their top two quarterbacks, their #2 running back, one of their receivers along with a starting linebacker and a starting corner, it's going to be an uphill climb. Pittsburgh is going to have to try and deal with Hodges under center: while he was decent enough in relief against the Ravens, this one is going to be a lot different. You're talking about making your first career NFL start on the road, in primetime, in search of a victory. That's tough sledding, especially against a Chargers team with motivation after last week's loss. Give the Chargers the upper hand.

Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers -6.5

Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com

Additional Insiders' Best Bets

Full-game Total Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Los Angeles has been tough defensively this season and that works in their favor. The Chargers have to get more offensive production as they've lost games where they allowed 13 and 20 points already this season. Los Angeles is only 1-3 in games decided by seven points or less this season. Pittsburgh has hung at least 20 points in each of their last four games but the big question mark comes with who plays quarterback. If Hodges starts, can he help carry the Steelers' offense and maintain that level of success? Will Rivers be able to move the ball with his patchwork group of weapons, not to mention a revamped offensive line?

The under is 6-0 in the Steelers' last 6 games in Week 6, 6-1 in their last 7 games following a straight up loss, 5-1 in their last six against AFC opponents and 7-2 in their last 9 games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game. Los Angeles has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four overall, 4-0 in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a losing road record, 5-0 in their last 5 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game and 6-1 in their last seven in October. This one is likely to be a lower-scoring affair, especially if Hodges gets the start under center, as nerves will be a factor for the Steelers. Look for it to fall under the total.

Prediction: Under 41.5

Half-time Side Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

This one basically, like so much else in this contest does, hinges on who is healthy enough to play for both sides. Pittsburgh saw Hodges make his debut last week and he was effective but it's tough to make that adjustment to coming in cold in the middle of a game to being a starter, much less in prime time, for your first NFL start. The Chargers have been stingy at keeping opposing teams in check and the problem is whether Rivers can find enough options in the passing game to put to work here. Having another week of practice under his belt could help Gordon be more effective too: give the Bolts the upper hand at the half.

Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers -3.5

Half-time Total Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Los Angeles has been up and down in the opening half of games this season. The Chargers led the Colts 17-6 at the half in the opener, a 10-6 lead over the Lions in week two, a 17-7 lead over Houston in week three and a 17-10 advantage over the Dolphins in week four. Last week, they were down 17-0 at the half to Denver en route to a defeat. Pittsburgh was down 20-0 to New England in the opener, led 10-7 over Seattle in week two, 6-3 over San Francisco in week three and 10-3 over the Bengals in week four. Last week, the Steelers trailed the Ravens 17-13 at intermission in what was Pittsburgh's highest scoring first half of the season. This one likely ends up just short of the number at the half.

Prediction: Under 20.5
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.