Pittsburgh Steelers @ Los Angeles Chargers preview

Markr1991 believes that Devlin Hodges will shock the NFL community and get the Steelers their second win of the season.

In what should have been a battle of two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks drafted in the same year, instead this game will be played out between one shot caller nearing retirement and another getting his first career start. Not the quarterback battle we wanted but one I can get behind.

In week two when Big Ben went down injured Steelers fans everywhere thought that was it for the season, myself included. Then up stepped Mason Rudolph and he looked pretty good considering he was dropped in at the deep end. He went on and got the Steelers their first win against the Bengals and for three quarters had them in the game against the Ravens. Then in a horrible moment Steelers fans again lost their starting quarterback and resorted to the backup. Like Rudolph, Devlin Hodges stepped up and looked capable. He led the Steelers down the field, got the game tied and only lost out to the ever dependable boot of Justin Tucker.

Over in Los Angeles Phillip Rivers has been doing what Phillip Rivers does and throwing the ball for a lot of yards. However, he is coming off a big loss to the previously winless Denver Broncos and will be looking to make up for that.

In this loss Rivers was far from his usual Hall of Fame standard and didn’t throw a single touchdown pass. Now this is rare and what is even rarer is that he goes two weeks in a row without finding the end zone. In fact this hasn’t happened since 2015. Bearing in mind Rivers has started every game (that’s every single game) since 11th September 2006, that is pretty impressive. So expect a reaction from him this week but he will need to be wary of going up against a stellar defence who are tied for the most takeaways this season (12) and tied for third in number of interceptions (6).

In a week where both teams are hampered by injuries this game is unlikely to be the shootout it was last year. The Chargers will be looking to get Melvin Gordon back up to scratch and have him and Austin Ekeler dominating out of the backfield. Pittsburgh’s defence is going to have to be at its best to stop Gordon and Ekeler and also to continue to get takeaways and give their offence a chance to win them the game. To be fair to the Steelers defence there is not much more they can do other than actually return all their takeaways for touchdowns themselves.

When the Pittsburgh offensive line were giving Mason Rudolph a clean pocket to operate out of he had a passer rating of 127.8. I will repeat that, he had a passer rating of 127.8. That is the second best in the league. Why are this team 1 and 4? This week feels like the Steelers have been battered and bruised and in these circumstances they usually show that they are a proud and resilient organisation and bounce back. So if that offensive line can come together, hold up and give Devlin Hodges a chance then who knows, maybe the year of the rookie quarterback continues.

Ones to Watch

Steelers: Minkah Fitzpatrick – In Weeks 1 and 2 before Fitzpatrick joined the Steelers were giving up 445 total yards per game, 320 pass yards per game and only had two takeaways. Since he joined they are now giving up only 296 total yards per game, 170 pass yards per game and have had 8 takeaways. Also they are now giving away 13 points less per game. Look for him to continue to drive this defence.

Chargers: Phillip Rivers – After stuttering in a shock week five loss to the Broncos look for Rivers to bounce back in a big way. As good as the Steelers defence have been they have shown they are still vulnerable in the passing game. Look for him to take advantage of this as right now it is one of the few weaknesses in that defence. 

Score Prediction

Steelers 23 Chargers 17

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