Two of the top teams in the AFC will square off on Sunday night in an important week 13 NFL battle. The 7-3-1 Pittsburgh Steelers will host the 8-3 Los Angeles Chargers in a game that will have an impact on playoff seeding in the AFC. These two teams haven’t met since the 2015 season, a 24-20 victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers saw their six-game winning streak snapped against the Denver Broncos last weekend in a 24-17 defeat. Pittsburgh still comes into this game in first place in the rugged AFC North. Los Angeles has won seven of their last eight games, and are currently in a Wild Card position in the AFC. The Chargers trail the Kansas City Chiefs by just one game in the AFC West. The Steelers are a 3.5 point favorite over the Chiefs on Sunday night.
Steelers Offense Looks Sharp
The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to struggle without Le’Veon Bell this season, but that has not been the case. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been terrific this season, throwing for 3,664 yards and 24 touchdowns. Antonio Brown leads the team with 11 touchdown receptions this season, but JuJu Smith-Schuster has been Big Ben’s favorite target. Smith-Schuster has caught 77 passes for 1,055 yards this season. The Steelers offense can put up points in a hurry with their deep passing game.
After struggling to end last season, the Steelers defense has been playing great in 2018. Pittsburgh is allowing just 22.6 points per game, and they have been getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. T.J. Watt has recorded 10 of the Steelers 39 sacks this season, and they will look to get pressure on Philip Rivers in this matchup.
Gordon Injury A Big Loss For Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers will be without Melvin Gordon in this game as he is dealing with a sprained right knee. Gordon has scored 13 touchdowns for the Chargers this season and has racked up over 1,200 yards from scrimmage. The Chargers will turn to rookie Austin Ekeler to try to replace Gordon in the running game. Ekeler is averaging 5.8 yards per carry this season and has also caught 32 passes for 354 yards. Los Angeles should still have enough offense to contend with the Steelers.
The Chargers defense has played great all season as well, allowing just 19.9 points per game. Melvin Ingram leads the team with 5.5 sacks, but the defense has been well-rested thanks to long drives by the offense. Quarterback Philip Rivers is having the best season of his career, and recently set an NFL record for most consecutive pass completions to start a game. The Chargers have talent and experience on both sides of the ball.
Steelers Win at Home
This is a potential playoff preview between two of the best teams in the AFC. The Chargers look like the more complete team at the moment, but the Steelers get the luxury of playing this game at home. Philip Rivers has been impressive all season long, but look for the cold weather and Steelers defense to slow him down a bit. Pittsburgh needs a strong bounce-back performance after a disappointing loss last weekend, and they will get it. Bet the Steelers -3.5 over the Chargers on Sunday night.