This Sunday the Chargers travel to Pittsburgh to meet to the Steelers where they are 0-12 in the regular season, I'm rather surprised they are only 4.5 point favorites. With the Steelers defense at home; this game looks like trouble; but lets take a look at their offense.
Team Stats - Game Averages
|Off||22.1||291.7 (26th)||184.4 (24th)||107.3 (24th)|
|Def||15.7||236.0 (1st)||164.4 (1st)||71.6 (2nd)|
You can see that Pittsburgh is almost a mirror image of the Chargers this year; while their defense is stifling they have struggled on offense. When your defense only allows 15.7 points a game; you will still win a lot of games. Right now the Steelers' chief problem seems to be Ben Rothlisberger. A quick look at his stats don't look terrible:
|2008 - Ben Roethlisberger||9||76.0||143||239||59.8||1682||186.9||7.0||10||11||16||30||3.3||2.1||0||23||146|
What this doesn't show is that in his last four games he has one TD and eight interceptions. He has a shoulder injury and it is pretty clear that it is affecting his ability to throw the ball. There is considerable discussion over at Behind the Steel Curtain on whether he should pull himself out. This is the flip side of LTs taking himself out of the Championship game last season when he felt he couldn't be effective. It looks like Roethlisberger will be playing on Sunday.
If the Chargers can bring heat on Roethlisberger and get some turnovers, that could go a long way towards giving them a better chance. The Steelers receivers are Santonio Holmes who also took some criticism for the turnovers against the Colts. He has caught for 419 yards averaging about 14 yards per catch. Hines Ward is the other wideout and has 557 yards, averaging around 13 yards per catch. There isn't one dominant receiver, but Ward has the majority of the TDs. The good news for the Chargers is that the Steelers don't go to their tight ends as receivers very often; Heath Miller has 240 yards so far. Still the Chargers seem to make every tight end look like a Pro Bowler and it is hard to imagine that Pittsburgh hasn't noticed.
Willie Parker was the main runningback against the Redskins two weeks ago. He just returned from an injury against the Eagles and ran for just 70 yards on 21 carries. He did not play against the Colts, but is rumored to play this Sunday despite a shoulder injury. If Parker can't go we will likely see Mewelde Moore who has run for 377 yards and has a 4.1 yards per carry average. Pittsburgh's left tackle has been out with an injury, but may return this Sunday as well; so the Steelers may make a better show of the running game.