It’s been over a month since the Pittsburgh Steelers lost a game, but last week’s tie with the winless Lions almost felt like a defeat. Reverting to Plan B after Ben Roethlisberger was stricken with the COVID and forced to watch the debacle from quarantine, the Steelers and Lions put on a pitiful display in a game deserving of a tie.
Though most fans probably wished they didn’t have to endure the extra 10 minutes. With Roethlisberger’s status for Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers in doubt, Mason Rudolph will get another opportunity to show he can handle the gig once Big Ben calls it quits. The line jumped significantly in favor of the Bolts, who opened as a 3.5-point home favorite only to have that number jump to -6.
The Week 11 Sunday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers will take place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA at 8:20 p.m. ET on November 21 and will be televised on NBC.
Steelers vs Chargers Odds
Pittsburgh Steelers +6 | Los Angeles Chargers -6 [BET NOW]
Steelers vs Chargers Over/Under
Over/Under 47 [BET NOW]
Considering how the Steelers played last week without Roethlisberger, his status for Sunday night will play a huge role in determining where the line eventually lands. The Bolts opened as a 3.5-point favorite with that number quickly wagered to LA -6 with Big Ben showing symptoms. It’s hard enough to get clearance when a player is asymptomatic and it’s much more difficult when dealing with the effects.
The Steelers were on a nice roll before last week’s tilt going 4-0 SU to get back in the AFC North conversation. They failed to cover the 6-point spread against Detroit and are 1-3 ATS in their previous four games. After opening the season 4-1 SU and ATS the Bolts are fading. They’ve dropped three of their last four going 1-3 ATS.
There’s a chance Roethlisberger can play if he produces a couple of negative tests. But as of now the Steelers are preparing for another game without their franchise icon. The coaching staff is working the game plan around Rudolph, but in his best Tom Bodett voice Mike Tomlin said of Roethlisberger, “We’ll definitely leave the light on for him.”
Having Rudolph start a game isn’t a big deal. He’s been with the team and started enough games to know the system. But he hasn’t been overly effective in those starting assignments. When Big Ben was lost a few games into the 2019 season it was Rudolph who took over going 5-3 in his eight starts. He got the last minute call to start against the Lions completing 30 of 50 for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception. There were some timing and accuracy issues, but given more than a few hours to prepare I suspect the passing game will be a little better.
Throwing the football 50 times isn’t what the Steelers want. And there’s a good chance Najee Harris has a big game against the NFL’s worst run defense. Harris amassed 105 yards on 26 carries last week and ranks sixth in the NFL with 646 total rushing yards. The Steelers could also be without a few other key pieces for this showdown. Minkah Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID on Monday and T.J. Watt exited last week’s game with a leg injury that could sideline him.
Los Angeles Chargers
The odds on favorite for Coach of the Year after the Bolts won four of their first five games, Brandon Staley is finding out just how difficult the job is with his team floundering through a spell of poor play. An outright loss to Minnesota as a 3-point home favorite last week dropped the Chargers to 5-4 SU and ATS. If it’s any consolation two of the setbacks during the skid were by a combined total of 10 points.
The season numbers for the offense are good, but they’ve dropped during the last month. Justin Herbert has thrown for 2,545 yards and 19 touchdowns helping the Bolts to the seventh-best passing attack in the league. However, he threw for only 195 yards in the loss to Minnesota and twice in the last four games was held to less than 200 passing yards. He’s also tossed four of his seven picks in that span. The door is open for Herbert to bust out with two key Pittsburgh defenders likely missing the game.
The Bolts are having their own issues with COVID. Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery were put on the COVID list this week and are unlikely to play. Those are impactful losses for a defense that ranks dead last in the NFL allowing over 155 rushing yards a game.
Steelers vs Chargers Predictions
This is turning out to be a huge game as far as the AFC playoff picture is concerned. Both teams are still in the hunt for a division title but need wins over conference foes to help with positioning and tie-breakers in case they don’t finish first. There’s a reason why Rudolph is still the Steelers’ backup and with time to prepare he should be much better. And the conditions in SoCal will be a plus. With the line going up I like Pittsburgh’s chances even more, and if Harris has a big day the Steelers could get the upset.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers +6 and OVER 47
View NFL Week 11 betting odds here.