The San Diego Chargers (2-2) will be in the national spotlight as they play host to an old AFC rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2). The Bolts are coming off a last second win over the Browns as Josh Lambo hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired to bring the team back to .500.
Not only will the lights be brighter because of the Monday Night Football stage, Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is back! Gates will be a welcomed addition to a team hampered with injuries, including the wide receiver position. Both Malcom Floyd (concussion) and Steven Johnson (Hamstring) left the game last week and the Chargers were left with just two WR’s the rest of the game.
Our main man Philip Rivers was also honored with AFC Player of the Week honors!
When: Monday October 12, 5:30 pm PT
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Betting: Chargers (-3)
The Steelers lead the all-time series with a one-sided 22-9 advantage, but we will always have the 1994 AFC Championship game that sent the Bolts to their only Super Bowl Appearance. This is the third time they’ve played on MNF and they are split at 1-1. The Chargers took the last matchup between these two in 2012 with a 34-24 victory in Pittsburgh.
It must have felt like Christmas morning for Philip Rivers and co. when Mr. Gates walked through the door at the Chargers facility this week. It comes at a great time as I mentioned earlier with the injuries to the WR position and with TE Ladarius Green battling multiple concussions. Gates has 99 career TD’s and when he catches his next one will be just the second tight end and ninth player in history to reel in a century of TD receptions. Just adding to his already Hall of Fame resume.
The offensive line for the Chargers started slow but found its rhythm against the Browns. It will take another effort like that against a Steelers defense that has been improving week to week. They are fourth in the NFL with 14 sacks and will be looking to add to it Monday night.
Dontrelle Inman could see a lot of time if Stevie Johnson is ruled out. Inman led the Chargers in yards last week even though he only played the second half really. He’ll be needed for his big play ability and look for him to use his speed to take a short pass and reel off a ton of yards after the catch.
After going three games registering just one sack, the Chargers defense got 4 against the Browns. Jeremiah Attoachu had two by himself and the Bolts will need to do that again with Michael Vick making just his second start of the season, replacing the injured Ben Rothlisberger.
Vick should be getting more comfortable in the offense but will look for the Chargers to be aggressive while playing smart. You need to keep Vick from breaking off any long gains with his legs. He’s not as lightning fast as he used to be, but he’s still dangerous outside the pocket.
The key though will be stopping running back Le’Veon Bell. The Pro Bowler missed the first two games serving a suspension but has picked up where he left off last season. He’s already got almost 200 yards and 2 TD’s in just two games. The Chargers rank towards the tail end of Rushing defense
so look for the Chargers to stack the box and please, wrap up guys (looking at you Te’o).
You can’t forget about Antonio Brown and the dangerous receiving core the Steelers possess. Brown
is about as unstoppable as they come from the receiving position. He’s got speed to burn and makes a living on yards after the catch. The safeties have to make sure they know where he is at all times and
don’t let him get behind the defense.
Big Ben was a huge loss for this team when he went down with a knee injury against the Rams two weeks ago. Luckily it wasn’t too serious and it has been rumored he will be back week 7. Michael Vick will be running the offense and looks to improve in his second start. He’s not Big Ben but the veteran can still make the plays, especially with all the weapons at his disposal.
Look for a healthy dose of Bell and even some DeAngelo Williams sprinkled in out of the back field. That’ll open up the passing lanes for Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Martavis Bryant will be making his season debut as well.
The secondary is suspect at best, but this defense is anchored by its ability to put pressure on the quarterback. DT Stephon Tuitt leads this team with 3.5 sacks, while D-lineman Cameron Heyward and rookie outside pass rusher Bud Dupree each have 2 sacks each. They have talent all over their front seven and it will be a real test for the Chargers’ offensive line to get the job done.
What We’re Watching:
I’m not watching a certain player or matchup, but I’m going to be keeping an eye on the play calling for the Chargers. Last week against the Browns, getting the ball of Rivers’ hand allowed the offensive line to get a rhythm going and set up some deep shots down the field. Coach McCoy and Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich has come under scrutiny this season for conservative play-calling but if they can put together and solid game plan, look for Rivers to have another big day under the bright lights.
Oh shoot, I forgot it’s Monday Night Football… don’t make a stupid mistake at the end of the game Chargers!