When the Steelers (5-3-1) go on the road to face the Chargers (5-4) in the penultimate game of NFL Week 11 on “Sunday Night Football” (8:20 pm ET, NBC), there will be the main implications of the AFC wild card are at stake.
Pittsburgh, which plays the tough AFC North, is trying to get closer to Baltimore and separate itself from Cincinnati and Cleveland. Los Angeles wants to keep pushing Kansas City and stay ahead of Las Vegas and Denver.
The Steelers will bring QB Ben Roethlisberger back from the COVID-19 roster after last week’s home draw with the Lions and wide receiver Chase Claypool (toe) should also return to help him in the lineup. But two key defenders will be down, running back TJ Watt (hip / knee) and smart cornerback Joe Haden (foot).
The Chargers are a bit hit offensively, including quarterback Justin Herbert (oblique), but they will also do so without two key defenders, as both forward Joey Bosa and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery are on the COVID-19 list.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Steelers vs. Chargers betting in Week 11, including updated odds, trends, and our Sunday Night Football prediction.
NFL WEEK 11 ELECTION: Against the Spread | Straight up
Steelers vs Chargers odds for Sunday Night Football
- Spread: Chargers for 6.5
- Below: 47
- Moneyine: Steelers +225, Chargers -275
The Chargers have seen the line grow in their favor to close to a TD from 4 points earlier in the week despite the Tillery and Bosa situations because Watt and Haden’s concerns on the other side far outweigh them. The plus / minus remains modest given the Steelers’ offensive limitations.
(betting odds for FanDuel sports betting)
Steelers vs Chargers all-time series
The Steelers have dominated the series 24-10 over the years. They won the match two years ago, 24-17 in Los Angeles. They lost the 2018 meeting 33-30 in Pittsburgh. Overall, they have beaten the Chargers 5 of 7 and also 10 of 13.
Three trends to know
—61 percent of spread bettors think the Chargers aren’t much better than the Steelers given the mid-game separation and like to cover the most popular road team.
—64 percent of above / below ranked bettors are considering some of the best players with offensive skills from both teams and believe the game will exceed total points.
—The Steelers are only 3-7 against differential, while they are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, including the playoffs. The total has been topped only three times in those games. The Chargers are 6-4 ATS and 6-4 SU in their last 10 games for the total of just four times.
Three things to look at
Najee Harris’ Rookie Race of the Year
Harris, the outstanding first-round running back for the Steelers, is the new centerpiece of their offense. He averages 24 touches and 107 yards per game. There’s no question that the team will often fuel him against the worst defense in the league. He could have his biggest game yet when Pittsburgh needs him most in a tight spot.
Up or down Herbert?
The Steelers and Chargers have two of the best pass defenses in the league. The surprise is that the Steelers have also battled the 25th NFL run. Herbert has had a second rollercoaster season after shining as a rookie as teams are planning to take the big play off his laser arm. The Chargers are better positioned in the short-to-intermediate passing game with running back Austin Ekeler and wide receiver Keenan Allen, along with a tight end committee. Deep shots are also hurting when wide receiver Mike Williams, hot at the start of the season, plays with persistent knee problems. Herbert must be patient and accept what the Steelers give him, knowing that neither Watt nor Haden are great opportunities.
Brandon Staley vs. Mike Tomlin
Staley is trying to become the NFL’s coach of the year as a rookie. He would be the first protégé of Sean McVay to do so. He has brought new energy to the Chargers, but after recent tough losses to the Patriots and Vikings, he has a chance to reassert his sideline skills to flex against his seasoned defensive-minded counterpart, Super Bowl winner Tomlin. Staley needs to remind his players that they are prime-time favorites and not let what should be a rowdy Steelers-led crowd intimidate them at home.
Statistics that matter
155.1 and 206.0. The top number is the average rushing yards the Chargers have given up in games this season, 32nd and last in the NFL. The last number is the average passing yards, number 4 in the NFL. The Steelers love to run with Harris given Roethlisberger’s arm limitations and they aren’t the best at stretching the field with their talented wide receivers. The Chargers should sell out to solve their biggest problem and force Big Ben to beat them by dueling Herbert.
Steelers vs Chargers prediction
The Steelers defense is solid for its reputation, but in its current state, it can have big lapses by allowing big runs and big plays in the passing game. That doesn’t play well against Herbert, Ekeler and Allen. Harris keeps the Steelers in the game, but Herbert is prepared to shine in the spotlight with some great opportunities.
Chargers 27, Steelers 20
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.