Chargers-Steelers Preview


It really doesn’t get any better than the matchups in the NFL this weekend. All four are rematches, and all four deal with some fantastic teams.

But the best matchup of all might just be Pittsburgh-San Diego.

In week 11 they met in the NFL’s first ever game to end in an 11-10 score. I’ve never seen a final play that meant absolutely nothing get disputed as long as the Steelers touchdown on the final play of the game has been. The score meant nothing but it should’ve counted and it didn’t.

This weekend the Steelers and Chargers meet again.

The NFL’s best defense against one of the NFL’s hottest teams. Phillip Rivers has played brilliantly all season (although he has no pro bowl to show for it). This season he’s thrown 34 TDs and 11 INTs to lead the Chargers back from a dreadful 4-8 start and into the playoffs. San Diego is now just one game away from the AFC Championship game, a thought that would’ve been laughed at if spoken five weeks ago.

Pittsburgh appears to have one of the more balanced teams standing. A few weeks ago before the Steelers game against New England I called Pittsburgh the NFL’s best team and heard a few chuckles burst out of the men around me. Who’s laughing now fellas? A Steelers victory against San Diego will send them to the AFC title game, and if the win comes paired with a Tennessee loss then the Steelers will have homefield next week with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

The Steelers defense is one of the best that have ever played in the NFL. I say that because they are ranked #1 in practically every statistical category. San Diego might be playing without LaDainian Tomlinson, although Darren Sproles isn’t exactly a downgrade, against a Pittsburgh defense that doesn’t allow anything to get going offensively. It’s probably giving Rivers nightmares when he watches tape.

The keys to the game are simple. Pittsburgh just needs to play the same defense they play every week in the NFL and then get the ground game going. If the Steelers can control the clock and put 17 points on the board it’s going to be tough for the Chargers to win on the road. I don’t expect another 11-10 circus act but I do think the game’s tempo will be controlled by Pittsburgh, meaning it will be low scoring.

The Chargers have to sustain drives. One of two things are going to have to happen. Either the running game is going to have to open up the passing game or the passing game is going to have to open up the running game. Either way the point is you can’t be one dimensional against a defense like the Steelers have. It might be impossible to move the ball effectively the whole game but if San Diego can keep Pittsburgh on it’s heels on defense then they can win this game.  On defense the Chargers are going to have to play inspired football. The last time against the Steelers they bent but didn’t break, and that was key in giving Pittsburgh a chance to win the game.

Make sure you tune in, because if the last matchup between Pittsburgh and San Diego taught us anything it was this: Anything can happen.