The Chargers will host the 5-3-1 Steelers tomorrow night on Sunday Night Football and as of Saturday morning, starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was removed from the COVID-19 list and is on track to start in primetime.
However, the Steelers have already ruled out three of their top players on defense in edge rusher T.J. Watt, cornerback Joe Haden, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
It also remains to be seen if any of the four Chargers players who are currently on the COVID-19 list will be able to return in time for Sunday night. As of right now, the Chargers are a five-point favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook, down from 5.5 points just 24 hours ago.
Curious to see what our writers predicted? Let’s go ahead and take a look.
Michael Peterson: The Chargers have an excellent opportunity to get the ground game going against a Steelers defense that’s allowing 123.0 yards per game on the ground. The last time the Chargers faced a bad rushing defense (aside from the Vikings) was the Raiders in week four. Ekeler rushed for a season-high 117 yards and a touchdown while averaging 7.8 yards per tote. I think being able to build confidence in their ground game could go a long way in making Justin Herbert feel like the game’s outcome is solely on his shoulders. After all, the team is 1-4 in games where he throws an interception. That means the second-year quarterback has a razor-thin margin for error every weekend. So Herbert has to trot out there knowing that if he doesn’t play flawlessly, more often than not his run game and defense won’t be able to do enough to keep the team in the game.
So that’s why, against the Steelers, Austin Ekeler should be able to find success between the tackles which will take a load off of Herbert’s shoulders and hopefully keep the Bolts from dropping to .500 on the season. I have the Chargers winning 20-17.
Matthew Stanley: I’m going for the reverse jinx this week. I think we have seen enough of the “old Chargers” showing their ugly head the last few weeks to assume the Chargers wind up playing down to the level of their (extremely banged up) competition. I’m hoping to be proven wrong but as some people have pointed out the Chargers seem to be struggling to find answers to their inconsistency and rhythm on offense and I don’t expect a miraculous fix this week. With the Steelers’ whole roster on the injury report and the Chargers struggling with their execution and scheme, I think this winds up a low-scoring event with the Steelers winning by a score. 17-20 Steelers.
Garrett Sisti: It seems like the Pittsburgh Steelers always find a way to win, especially in primetime games against the Chargers. Now before you mention the possibility of Mason Rudolph at quarterback on Sunday night, remember the Chargers got beat by a duck-calling champion who started for the Steelers in 2019. They are always well prepared and the Steelers seem to out-coach the Chargers whenever they face each other. The Chargers should win this game pretty handedly, they are too talented and the Steelers are worse than their record says they are ... but I think the Chargers’ troubles mount here because they just sit back on defense rather than attack. Whether it’s Rudolph or Big Ben, I think they will do just enough to beat the Chargers and Najee Harris has a big day on the ground. Final score: Steelers winning 24-20.