Week 11 of the NFL season is upon fans, and there are admittedly few games to be very excited about. The 6-3 Buffalo Bills will host the 5-5 Indianapolis Colts at 1:00 p.m. ET, with the Bills as 7-point favorites. Fans get to enjoy (or laugh at) Tank Bowl 2 when the 2-7 New York Jets host the 3-7 Miami Dolphins, with the Fins being 3.5-point favorites. Aside from these games, the matchups appear fairly one-sided. However, this is also an opportunity for upsets. Who knows, maybe fans will get to see a week as chaotic as Week 9. Is that too hopeful? Probably, but who cares? Let’s just roll with it.
The Los Angeles Chargers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football at SoFi Stadium. The Chargers are currently sitting at 5.5-point favorites. Is that too high? It’s tough to say. The Chargers have certainly been going through a rough patch recently, losing 3 of their last 4 games. But the Steelers are going through their own struggles, barely beating the Chicago Bears (thanks to some questionable officiating) and tying against the winless Detroit Lions last week. Not to mention, the Steelers are dealing with injuries, with stars Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt, and Joe Haden listed as out for Sunday night. Let’s take a closer look at this game in the Chargers-Steelers Preview.
Matchups to Watch For
Najee Harris vs. Chargers’ Run Defense
Shocking, for sure, that the Chargers’ run defense is facing off against yet another talented running back. Though not as talented as Dalvin Cook on the Minnesota Vikings, who the Chargers did fairly well against last week, Harris is a talented running back who functions as the workhorse for this middling Steelers offense. In 9 games this season, Harris has 646 rushing yards on 176 attempts with 4 rushing touchdowns. With 44 receptions for 317 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns as well, Harris is having a stellar rookie campaign.
It is well-known by this point that the Chargers’ run defense is mediocre at best. However, it cannot go unsaid that the run defense did well against Cook and the Vikings. On 24 carries, Cook had 94 rushing yards and a touchdown. While 94 yards and a touchdown may sound like high volume, it was on 24 carries, meaning it was very inefficient. While Harris is a talented running back, he certainly is not at the same level as Cook. Let’s hope that the Chargers’ run defense can hold him like they did Cook.
Justin Herbert vs. Ben Roethlisberger – Young Gun vs. NFL Veteran
Justin Herbert is one of the biggest new names in the NFL. He is one of the best talents at quarterback, rivaling only Patrick Mahomes in passing feats through his first 24 games. Though he has struggled in the past few weeks, it is difficult to blame his recent struggles entirely on him. He certainly is partially responsible, but his offensive line, playcalling, and lack of an impactful run game have contributed as well. Not to mention, his stats would be far more impressive if his receivers would more reliably catch his passes.
Ben Roethlisberger, also known as Big Ben, is a good counterpart to Herbert. Statswise, Big Ben will be a guaranteed Hall of Famer when he retires. Big Ben, through his storied career, has 62,334 passing yards, which is 6th-most all-time. Along with his 2 Super Bowl wins, Big Ben’s career should be what Herbert aspires to be. It will be interesting to see the two face off, Big Ben representing the old guard and Herbert representing the young blood taking over the league.
The Steelers have one major disadvantage going into this game: missing players. Star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will miss the game due to an illness, while star edge rusher and star cornerback T.J. Watt and Joe Haden will both miss the game due to injuries. Losing all three of these guys could be a catastrophic blow for the Steelers, as they are three of the most important players on the entire Steelers roster. Without them, it would be difficult to beat any team for the struggling Steelers.
Summary and Predictions
The Chargers and Steelers, on paper, should have (and could have) been a fantastic matchup worthy of Sunday Night Football. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way. The Chargers are in a major slump right now, having lost 3 of 4 and trying to mend a sinking ship. Meanwhile, the Steelers have a mediocre offense, and their extremely talented defense is filling out the injury report. In the end, it might have been better off to flex another game to Sunday night, but alas, here we are. The Chargers will likely take this game solely due to the injuries on the Steelers defense, but it likely won’t be pretty. This was the Chargers-Steelers Preview.