After a lengthy absence, Steelers Nation has to be thrilled that their star quarterback Big Ben Roethlisberger will return to the fold in Week 14. Pittsburgh has done an admirable job of holding down the fort in his absence, but with Big Ben back, you get the sense the Steelers are on the verge of breaking out. This week they’ll host an abysmal San Diego Chargers squad with nothing to play for, and rumors of firings surrounding their camp. It’s a classic tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and expect a Steelers’ romp.
Pittsburgh is fresh off their most impressive victory of the season, defeating their arch-rival Baltimore Ravens 23-20 last week without Ben Roethlisberger. Now, with their star QB back under centre, the Steelers are thinking about solidifying their playoff spot, and potentially catching the Ravens for that AFC North divisional crown. Pittsburgh’s defense has been solid all season long, and as this team starts returning from the injury ward look for them to truly reach their peak. Though they’re still without LaMarr Woodley and Ike Taylor on defense, Troy Polamalu is back on what remains a ferocious Steelers’ defense that will surely cause issues for a punchless San Diego side.
The Chargers meanwhile have all but been eliminated from playoff contention, after yet another disappointing season. Entering this contest, rumors are circulating that the team will likely fire its head coach and general manager at the end of the season, to the delight of much of their disgruntled fan base. This is simply an organization in disarray right now, with very little to fight for. San Diego will be without inside linebacker Donald Butler, and wide-out Eddie Royal. Whether the remaining 53-men on their roster decide to show up, remains to be seen.
Chargers vs. Steelers Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers +7.5 (-110)
@ Pittsburgh Steelers -7.5 (-110)
Over 39.5 (-110)
Under 39.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Chargers vs. Steelers Pick:
Don’t expect much of anything from a San Diego squad that has simply given up on this season. All that remains for the Bolts is to maximize their draft pick by year’s end. This is a squad that has squandered away countless opportunities over the years, and after many instances of horrid coaching and mismanagement, it’s finally come to a head in San Diego. Norv Turner and A.J. Smith are reportedly gone in a few weeks, and as a result expect the Steelers to feast on their unmotivated opposition in Week 14.
The Steelers enter this game riding a wave of momentum after taking down a solid Ravens squad on the road last week.
Now, they get their best player Ben Roethlisberger back, and will work toward hammering down a playoff position, while potentially winning the AFC North title. Pittsburgh has a soft schedule the rest of the way in comparison to Baltimore’s and if Big Ben returns with no rust, it’s not out of the question that the Steelers can be viewed as one of the premier teams in the NFL.
The main strength to Pittsburgh this year has unquestionably been their rock-solid defense. The Steelers enter this contest with the NFL’s top-rated defense, allowing only 259.8 yards per game. That doesn’t bode well for a brutal Chargers’ offense. Philip Rivers has clearly regressed as an NFL quarterback and should be in for a tough afternoon against the ferocious pass rush of the Steelers. San Diego has conceded 14 sacks in just their past three contests, and look for Pittsburgh to get to Rivers with regularity disrupting his time and rhythm in the pocket. Moreover, Ryan Mathews has definitely failed to live up to the hype thus far in 2012 and going against the Pittsburgh run defense will just make matters worse.
Look for Ben Roethlisberger to return and show minimal signs of rust. Pittsburgh still must compete for a playoff spot, and every game matters. Pittsburgh is coming off a big emotional victory last week, but won’t suffer a letdown with their star quarterback re-entering the fold. Look for an impressive outing from the Steelers, and expect a message-sending performance from the black and yellow. San Diego is in no mood to travel across the country and turn in a solid performance, and that will be their demise come Sunday. Look for the Steelers to win this game in what should be a rout.
PICK = Steelers -7.5 (-110)