View Full Version : Chargers – Steelers Playoff Preview

01-08-2009, 10:48 PM
No. 4 San Diego Chargers vs. No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers

Where: Sunday, Jan. 11, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, 2:45 MST, on CBS.

Last Meeting: Sunday, November 16, 2008, Pittsburgh defeated San Diego 11-10. The first 11-10 final score in NFL history.

All Time Series: The Steelers lead the series 20-6, and have won seven of the last 10, including 6 of the last 7. They have outscored the Chargers 232-176 in the last 10.

Vegas Odds: Pittsburg is favored by six, with the over-under set at 39.

When San Diego Has the Ball

Running game

Key matchup: The San Diego offensive line vs. the 3-4.

San Diego has the leading rusher in the playoffs this year after week one, with a 105-yard, two touchdown performance. The only difference is that it wasn’t LaDainian Tomlinson. It was Darren Sproles. Sproles performance boosted the Chargers past the Colts, and it’s exactly what they need as it appears that Tomlinson has a serious hamstring issue, and will, once again, play sparingly, and possibly need surgery after the season.

But, the Steelers have the second best run defense in the NFL over the course of the season, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry, and allowing just 80 yards a game on the ground.

Its no real secret that the Steelers want to make their opponent one-dimensional, so that they can key on the pass and focus on their pass rush, the best in the league. The Steelers will make it a point to stop Sproles.

Advantage: Steelers

Passing game

Key matchup: The San Diego tackles vs. the outside pass rush of the Steelers.

Philip Rivers is one of the best young passers in the NFL, with his passer rating leading the NFL this regular season. Yet, last week, in their playoff win, he threw for just 217 yards. It should be different this week, as they go up against a much better run defense, and a much better defense overall.

The Steelers, statistically, were the best defense this season, and much of it can be attributed to the outside rush and their ability to collapse a pocket in on a quarterback. James Harrison had 16 sacks on one side, and LaMarr Woodley had 12 sacks on the other side.

Advantage: Steelers

When Pittsburgh Has the Ball

Running game

Key matchup: The line of scrimmage.

If Pittsburgh can move the line of scrimmage forward, they will control this game.

Willie Parker only had 791 yards this season, as he struggled with some injuries playing in just 11 games. But, Mewelde Moore filled in with 588 yards this season, and Roethlisberger, himself, had over 100 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Add in short-yardage back Gary Russell, and the Steelers still have a solid rushing attack, even if it did rank an uncharacteristic 23rd in the league for the Steelers. Parker looks to be back on track, running for 116 yards and a touchdown on a 5-yard-per-carry average in the final game of the season against Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the Chargers have been pathetic against the run. They stopped up a Colts offense last week, but over the course of the season, the Chargers allowed over 100 yards per game. 11th in the league, but it still had its holes.

A healthy Willie Parker changes this match up a lot.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Passing game

Key matchup: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Interceptions.

Roethlisberger is the epitome of a game manager at quarterback. He just wins games. He is now 51-20 in his career as a starter with Pittsburgh. This year, Roethlisberger’s rating was just 80.1, but he threw for 3,301 yards and 17 touchdowns. The key to the Steelers offense is running it effectively enough to not put the emphasis on Roethlisberger’s arm.

However, the Chargers were 31st in the league in passing, and the Steelers have to be licking their chops at this matchup. If they can get a semblance of a running game, and make the play-action work, Roethlisberger could have a field day.

Advantage: Steelers

Special Teams

Key Matchup: Darren Sproles vs. the Steelers kick coverage.

The clear advantage hear is for the San Diego Chargers, as Sproles is one of the most versatile players in the league, and his returns are a big part of his game. The Chargers are going to rely heavily on the sprite running back, and they will rely extremely heavily on him in the return game, and in the field position battle.

Advantage: San Diego


Pittsburgh is the clear favorite. On paper they are the better team. They have the best defense in the NFL, despite the mass hysteria that has gone on around the league after Baltimore’s game last week against Miami. The 3-4 pressure defense should stall the Charger rushing game and force Rivers to throw the ball. He’s been good all year, but can he get away from the best rushing attack in the league.

Dick Lebeau has incorporated a brilliant scheme all year, and Woodley and Harrison are two of the best young linebackers in the league, and they fuel this defense. Add in all of the other key components on this defense, and it adds up to one thing, a Pittsburgh win.

You win with defense in January. I don’t expect anything less of the Steelers on Sunday.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, San Diego 13

01-09-2009, 01:00 AM
Pittsburgh has a beast defense. Their offense, is awful. Ben Roethlisburger is a player that I like. However, every last time that kid gets hurt he plays awful. Even today he grabs his thumb after he throws an INT.

I don't have much faith in his ability to play well past a few streaks in this game. Especially since the Steelers offense is stagnant, and their line is questionable. Factor in that he has always held onto the ball too long, even when healthy, and it could be a field day for the Chargers.

As far as the running game goes, the Steelers defense isn't going to give up many big players. However, that does not mean that the Chargers are or will give up on the run game. It's going to be a low scoring affair, so both teams will be FORCED to respect the other squad's run game.

I like the Chargers to win this one. The biggest two players in this game will be Rivers and Antonio Gates.

Medford Bronco
01-09-2009, 09:19 AM
I like it to be a little closer but still see Pitt winning
with Home Field, Elements and a much better defense.

Pitt 24 SD 17. Good game to watch however.

01-09-2009, 03:00 PM
Chargers – Steelers Playoff Preview

...hmmm....make this person cry and whine like the little sissy he/she is.


...oh, and PIT score 52 points.

01-09-2009, 03:11 PM
One nugget I read on Chargers message board:

If the Chargers win this weekend, that gives Norv Turner more playoff wins than any coach in San Diego history.

That's kind of sad....

Medford Bronco
01-11-2009, 10:19 AM
If they win today the Chargers will play at home for the AFCC game.

Unbelievble that an 8-8 team could get a home game in the AFCC game

01-11-2009, 11:24 AM
I like it to be a little closer but still see Pitt winning
with Home Field, Elements and a much better defense.

Pitt 24 SD 17. Good game to watch however.

I agree...I think both teams match up well.I am looking forward to watching this game.I hope Sporles has a field day.I am wishing the Chargers good luck in this game.I hope they represent our division well.

I would like to see a SD-AZ SB.