Quarterbacks will air it out in tight Pittsburgh victory

by BetOnline.com on October 3, 2009

Pittsburgh (1-2) seems to be suffering from a Super Bowl hangover after last week’s 23-20 loss to the Bengals, while the Chargers (2-1) are painfully grinding their way to victory. Nothing has come easily to either team this season, and things aren’t about to change in this matchup. What should sportsbook fans expect?

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, October 4, 1:00 p.m. ET

NFL betting line: Pittsburgh -6

Pittsburgh’s struggles to run the football this season have been well documented but, contrary to popular belief, the Steelers weren’t a strong running team last season either. Pittsburgh rushed for about 105 yards a game last season, good for 23rd in the NFL. Now the Steelers are down to just 81 yards per outing, and so far this team has proved it can’t win on Ben Roethlisberger’s arm alone. If former first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall is ever going to bust out, now is the time. The second-year player was benched last week after an awful week of practice; he’s got more than enough motivation to rebound this week and start stealing carries from incumbent starter Willie Parker.

Naturally, the Steelers must rely on their defense. Generally speaking, the “D” has been very tough this year, only to be let down by the offense. Pittsburgh did allow Cincinnati to drive for a late game-winning score in Week 3, but for the most part the defense is getting the job done. The Steel Curtain could be even more effective if the running game picks up and gives defenders more rest between series.

The Chargers, though 2-1, have struggled so far; there are several areas of major concern that could shift this team from Super Bowl contender to mere playoff participant. Like Pittsburgh, San Diego is struggling to run the football. Injuries to the offensive line are part of the problem, but LaDainian Tomlinson’s decline can’t be ignored. He looked “plain” at best in a Week 1 victory over the Raiders before succumbing to yet another injury. Back-up Darren Sproles, who was expected to build on a solid season in 2008, is averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. Quarterback Philip Rivers, averaging 330 yards per game, will likely be busy again.

San Diego’s defense has been underwhelming so far this season. The primary concern is a failing pass rush. The Chargers have picked up just three sacks this season; a poor pass rush will quickly sink a team, as turnovers disappear from the picture. It was hoped Shawne Merriman—who missed all but one game last season with an injury—would bounce back and dominate like he did during his first three years (39.5 sacks in 42 games). He’s yet to record a sack this season, however, and now he’s a game-time decision with a groin injury. Check in with your betting services and get the full scoop before kickoff.

Both teams are suffering from drooping running games, but at least the Steelers can fall back on a dominating defense.  Expect both Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers to have big games, but Rivers to ultimately be let down by his defensive teammates as Big Ben makes one or two extra plays. That said, this game will still be close thanks to Rivers’ heroics. Pittsburgh wins on your NFL bet, but the Chargers cover.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: