One positive reason for why the Pittsburgh Steelers can seem like a soap opera at times is that they inevitably bounce back quickly from bad games.
Coming off a road loss to sub-.500 Denver, the Steelers, with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger behind center, are 3.5-point betting favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 52-point total on the Sunday Night Football odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Steelers are 7-0-1 straight-up in their last eight games after a loss, but are 1-5 against the spread in their last six home games against teams with winning records. The OddsShark NFL Database also notes the Steelers are 6-3 SU and 4-5 ATS in their last nine home games as a favorite of 3.0 to 7.0 points. The Chargers are 4-10 SU and 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 road games as a underdog in that 3.0 to 7.0 range.
The Chargers are 8-3 SU and 6-5 ATS behind the leadership of their own 15-year veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, but only one of their wins is against a team with a winning record. Some skepticism about a Southern California-based team going into Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field in December minus feature running back Melvin Gordon (MCL sprain) is understandable, but the Chargers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games against AFC North teams and 8-1 ATS in their last nine road games after consecutive home games.
Austin Ekeler, Gordon’s replacement, is actually averaging more yards per touch than the starter. If strong safety Morgan Burnett (back, doubtful) is out for the Steelers, the Chargers passing game could get receivers such as Keenan Allen into more favorable matchups against a Steelers pass defense that allows just 6.9 yards per throw (fourth in the NFL).
The Steelers are 7-3-1 SU and 6-4-1 ATS, and have been electric in prime time, where they are 14-1 SU in their last 15 night games under coach Mike Timlin. The big question for bettors might be determining whether some recent issues – such as seven turnovers in their last two games, and a ground game built around James Conner that has cooled off – are anomalous or actual regressions.
In the passing phase, Roethlisberger and his two favorite receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster seem to have a challenging matchup, as the Chargers cornerback tandem of Casey Hayward and Michael Davis have helped Los Angeles limit teams to 7.2 yards per pass (ninth in the NFL). With Marcus Gilbert ruled out, the Steelers will also have right tackle Matt Feiler lined up against a top edge pass rusher in Joey Bosa. With all that being said, the Steelers have shown a propensity for rising to the occasion at home.
The effect of Gordon’s absence could be more acute in the totals, since he tends to churn out first downs that keep the clock rolling. The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Chargers’ last 11 road games, with an average combined score of 39.18 points. The total has gone OVER in three of the Chargers’ last four games against the Steelers, with an average combined score of 56.75 points. The total has gone OVER in six of the Steelers’ last seven games at home, with an average combined score of 62.86 points.
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