The Los Angeles Chargers did the Pittsburgh Steelers no favors when they overcame a substantial deficit to defeat them a few weeks back. The officials were no friend to the home team that game either, and some fluky things did happen along the way.
But Philip Rivers and company could help Pittsburgh out significantly on Sunday by continuing what they have been doing, which is winning football games. Their next opponent is the Baltimore Ravens, and a loss to the Chargers may be critical to the Steelers’ chances of winning the AFC North.
The Steelers have an opportunity to clinch the division this week if they beat the New Orleans Saints on the road and the Ravens lose to the Chargers. But it would matter even more if Pittsburgh can’t beat the Saints. With both teams losing, it would come down to Pittsburgh just beating a Cincinnati Bengals team without their quarterback, their top two wide receivers, and their top two tight ends.
The schedule-makers did the Ravens no favors this week in this critical moment, either. The Chargers last played on Thursday Night. They host Baltimore this Saturday. So the Chargers will have had extra days of rest and preparation, while the Ravens will have had less than a normal work week to prepare.
And they have to travel to the west coast for the game. If I were the Steelers, I would not be thrilled about those circumstances, but that’s just the way the schedule breaks sometimes. Generally speaking, I do believe the schedule-makers try to factor in as many variables as possible to create balance.
Former Chargers safety Eric Weddle said that “it’s funny how that works. It’s obviously a disadvantage”. In his third season with the Ravens, and once again voted into the Pro Bowl, Weddle has been huge for their defense once against this year.
“We’re going to use this as motivation. It’s stacked up against us. We’re going to be the underdog”, he said. “No one is going to think we’re going to win. This just adds to the game. Would we like to have 10 days to prepare for one of the best teams in the league? Of course, but we don’t. Why worry about it or use it as an excuse?”.
At the moment, I’m not sure if I’d rather be facing the Saints or the Chargers, as the latter has been that good. The Saints are great, and have a better overall defense, but have more vulnerable in recent weeks. Yet they have one of the best homefield advantages in the NFL, while Los Angeles has been better on the road.