The Pittsburgh Steelers vs the Los Angeles Chargers under the lights of primetime football. This is a game that many thought would include a battle between 2004 draft mates Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. But this game will not see some of the top quarterbacks from 2004 do battle, instead those watching will be in for an interesting matchup as Rivers goes up against Devlin Hodges, a quarterback who was not even on the Steelers’ main roster a month ago. Now that may sound like a nail in the coffin but there are many reasons to be slightly confident in the Steelers’ chances. After all, Hodges was just minutes away from upsetting the Baltimore Ravens last week and this week he will have to be just as great if the Steelers plan to win.
Here are all the stats that are going to shape Sunday’s contest.
2 – Mike Tomlin has done a fine job getting his team ready for the bright lights of prime time over his career. Tomlin has a career 18-12 when playing in a regular season primetime game on the road which may not seem too great but he has lost just twice over his last 10 road primetime games. Those two losses both came at the hands of the New England Patriots as well. Tomlin has a tall task at hand this Sunday night as he will have to find a way to defeat the Chargers with a backup quarterback. It is no easy task but it is a task that Tomlin has accomplished before as his lone win on the west coast came against the Chargers when the Steelers were forced to use a backup quarterback in Michael Vick.
6.9 – The Steelers’ defense has been on the field for a very long time this season as the offense has struggled to give them any chance to catch their breath. If the defense was expecting a moment to breathe this Sunday, well then, I have some bad news for them. The Chargers are currently first in the NFL in a few time of possession statistics. No team is averaging more plays per drive than the Chargers, who are averaging 6.9 plays per drive and their average of 3:25 minutes per drive is also first in the NFL. This Chargers’ team is going to chew up clock and if the Steelers’ defense cannot get off the field, there are going to be many problems. Hopefully, the offense can chip in as well and contribute a few sustainable drives.
8 – One thing that the Chargers have not been known for this season is their pass defense as they are allowing eight yards per pass attempt, good for 27th in the NFL. That should be good news for Devlin Hodges, as the rookie quarterback showed to have a knack for slinging the ball down the field last Sunday. The Chargers have given up five touchdown passes that have gone for 30 yards or more and it will be absolutely crucial for the Steelers to take advantage of this glaring weakness this Sunday.
10 – Phillip Rivers has not been on Tom Brady levels of kryptonite but he has been pretty good against the Steelers’ defense over his last four matchups against them. Rivers is just 2-2 over his last four games against the Steelers but from an individual standpoint he has been almost perfect, tossing ten touchdowns and just one interception. Rivers’ passer rating has exceeded 95.0 in three of those four matchups as well. After feasting on Lamar Jackson and Andy Dalton, the Steelers’ defense has a big test up ahead of them this Sunday in Rivers.
191 – The Denver Broncos put out the blueprint on how to defeat the Chargers last Sunday. Get ahead early and run the ball. The Broncos ran for 191 yards last Sunday with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combining for 175 rushing yards. For the Steelers, running the football has been easier said than done as their running game currently ranks 29th in the league. The Steelers have not eclipsed 100 yards rushing since Week 15 of last season and over their last 12 games, they have only cracked 100 yards on the ground once. James Conner and the offensive line have a big task at hand as they will attempt to revive what has been a slow and stagnant run game.