What’s happened in the past doesn’t really mean very much.
What happens Sunday will have real meaning for the Chargers, in their never-ending attempt to end the ugly playoff drought and post season history of failure.
The Chargers go to Pittsburgh in another installment of what has been as really lopsided rivalry.
The doesn’t matter to Philip Rivers. Doesn’t mean much to Ben Roethlisberger. It will mean a lot when Sunday night’s game is done.
A Chargers win puts them in the hunt to chase down 1st place Kansas City in the AFC-West. A Chargers loss is just another black mark in the book of a franchise that hasn’t done well against teams with winning records, this year, or last, in the Anthony Lynn regime.
Pittsburgh is the scene of the Chargers enormous 1995-win in the AFC title game, that sent them to the Super Bowl against the 49ers.
But good outings have been few and far between, whether the beatings took place at old Three Rivers Stadium, or the new Heinz Field.
The Bolts don’t care about the past, just what happens at 5:20pm on Sunday night.
But history has shown how hard it is to win for the Chargers in Blitzburgh. The Steelers lead the overall series (22-7).
And in Pittsburgh, the Chargers, from Dan Fouts-thru-Stan Humphries to Rivers, are just (3-15) all time where the Three Rivers come together.
The Chargers have played an easy schedule, getting their 8-wins against clubs with a combined record of (27-59-1). The Steelers, playing much better now, have put their 7-win season against teams that are (32-44-1).
Pittsburgh is all about Ben Roethlisberger and big plays, and at home, that quarterback is an amazing (77-26) playing infront of Black & Gold dressed fans. His coach, Mike Tomlin has led his team to a (68-25) home field advantage. It’s a tough place to play.
The matchup will be special on Sunday night.
There will be no Melvin Gordon at running back, and that’s some (1255Y) all purpose yards Rivers won’t have to rely on. Austin Ekeler has been a great change of pace player, catch and run. Whether he can be a 25-touch guys this weekend is doubtful.
Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams will all need big play days to make up for what they won’t get with Gordon gone.
The Steelers counter with James Connor, who like Gordon, has over (1300) all purpose yards, though he has tailed off the last couple of week. They haven’t missed the holdout Le’Veon Bell yet, but you might want to be concerned if Connor has hit the ‘wall’ in terms of exhaustion.
Secondaries get exhausted chasing JuJu Smith, star in the making, and the star they have in Antonio Brown. Between them over 140-catches this year so far.
Roethlisberger throws picks, but he says so-what. He throws TDs, and wins, and that’s all that matters to him, especially again at home.
Unsung in all of Pittsburgh’s success this year, has been the defense. TJ Watt and a fierce pass rush have 39-sacks this season, added to a stingy defense, led by DE-Cam Hayward.
In the first five weeks of the season, the Steelers gave up an average (401YPG). The last five games, (259YPG). That’s big time improvement. They haven’t allowed a quarterback to throw for over 300-against them in the last seven games. Pretty impressive too.
Big plays have been part of both club’s arsenal’s this year. Pittsburgh has 25-passes of 25-yards or more. The Steelers have 16-runs of plus 15-yards, so they will gash you.
The Chargers keep hitting big plays too, including 150-plays of 10-yards or more….and 55-plays of 20-yards or more. Big chunks of real estate.. Aside from the numbers in neon lights, the Steelers (420YPG) and the Bolts (402YPG), Sunday will be about matchup.
And that’s what would be scary.
Without Brandon Mebane, out with personal problems, and without Corey Liuget-Denzel Perryman (injured), stopping the run will be tough.
And so will shutting down the passing game. Tight end Vance McDonald catches a lot of passes. Which linebacker, if any of them, can cover him? No one.
And though Desmond King and Derwin James have had good years, the trio of corners the Bolts have, have not, including hi priced veteran Casey Hayward. How are you going to cover Brown-Smith-Derrious Bay and the tight end?
Add in the lack of trust in the Chargers kicking game, and you have a problem.
Never doubt Rivers and all he can bring to the huddle and the line of scrimmage in the most important games he plays.
But never discount the raging fan base and how momentum in Pittsburgh can change in an instant.
It will be fun, Rivers vs Big Ben. All the big play wide receivers, and that kid running back., and the game of ‘where is TJ Watt lining up?’
But in the end, I just don’t think the Chargers can win very many matchups. Too many big Steeler plays in a shooting gallery game with the Bolts.
Until they show me they are a complete team, and can beat a quality team on the road, I will be a Charges doubter, beyond being a Dean Spanos hater.
And that’s why I think it will wind up being a Steelers-win on Sunday.