The 2-2 Pittsburgh Steelers travel to San Diego on Monday night to take on the 2-2 Chargers as both teams have important pieces returning from suspensions this week. Martavius Bryant is returning for Pittsburgh after serving 4 games for violating the league’s the substance abuse policy. Last year as a rookie he caught 8 touchdown passes and will help shift some of the focus off Antonio Brown whose numbers have declined since Ben Roethlisberger went down to injury. Antonio Gates returns this week for the Chargers after serving a 4 game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Since 2006 Gates is 3rd in the NFL with 74 touchdowns and his presence will help open up the run game which is ranked 22nd in the league with just 3.9 yards per carry.
The Steelers lost last week in overtime to the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 after leading 20-7 early in the third quarter and missing 2 field goals in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh is now on its 4th kicker as they released Josh Scobee after his 49 and 41 yard misses at the end of regulation. Michael Vick had a decent game by completing 19 -26 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown was held in check as he caught 5 passes for 42 yards. He hasn’t caught a touchdown since Ben Roethlisberger went down with an injury in week 3. Le’veon Bell had another big game as he had 22 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, they allowed 190 rushing yards including 150 to Justin Forsett who before this game has been having a down year. They did however have 8 tackles for a loss and were able to sack Joe Flacco 5 times for a loss of 21 yards.
The Chargers beat the Cleveland Browns 30-27 last week and Phillip Rivers is playing as good as he ever has. He was 26-38 for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns without throwing an interception. 8 different receivers caught passes including Keenan Allen who caught 4 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. On the year he has thrown for 1,298 yards and 8 touchdowns. Danny Woodhead had a big game as he rushed for 54 yards and had 4 receptions for an additional 84 yards including a 61-yard reception in the second half. Defensively they allowed the Browns to accumulate over 430 yards of offense and were susceptible to the big play by allowing 4 plays that went for over 25 yards. Special Teams also had a good day as Brandon Oliver returned 4 kickoffs for 107 yards.
San Diego is 5-1 covering the spread in their last 6 Monday night games and the Steelers are 1-5 over their last 6 Monday night games. This is a home game for the Chargers and the passing game for the Steelers hasn’t been the same since Ben Roethlisberger’s injury. The Chargers are slight favorites in this game and should be able to beat the Steelers by a field goal without Roethlisberger.
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