Pittsburgh Steelers @

Los Angeles Chargers

Sun, Oct 13
5:20 PM Pacific
Rotation: 273
Odds: Los Angeles Chargers -6.5, Total: 41.5

Game Analysis

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LA CHARGERS (-6.5) vs Pittsburgh

Delvin Hodges will be under center on Sunday after the Steelers lost backup Mason Rudolph last week. I expect offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner to make it as easy as possible for his undrafted rookie quarterback using quick one-read passes, especially with his top wide receiver in an unfavorable matchup. JuJu Smith-Schuster has managed to average more than 2 yards per route run this season despite poor quarterback play but I’m not optimistic about his chance in this game across from Desmond King, who is one of the league’s best nickelbacks. Edge defender Uchenna Nwosu showed he is a capable backup for Melvin Ingram with 5 pressures including a sack last week. Ingram may return for this game to play opposite Joey Bosa but the edge rushing duo is likely to be contained by Pro Bowl left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and right tackle Matt Feiler, who ranks 9th in pass blocking efficiency. Hodges will utilize dump-offs to James Conner versus a Chargers defense ranked about average covering running backs thus far but was 30th in 2018. Pittsburgh’s ground game ranks 2nd despite Conner only averaging 0.10 avoided tackles per rush (4th-worst). Conner finished last season at 0.17 avoided tackles per rush and the Steelers rushing attack can dominate if the Pro Bowl running back improves.

Pittsburgh’s defensive weakness is at nickelback and Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown when these teams faced off last season. The Steelers are surrendering 1.69 yards per cover snap in the slot this season because they refuse to move the newly acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick to Nickelback, where he is at his best. Allen is gaining 2.34 yards per route run (7th) and should put up numbers similar to last year’s game. Austin Ekeler has 77 more receiving yards than the 2nd-highest running back through 5 games but he could struggle versus a Steelers defense allowing 5.4 yards per target to opposing running backs (9th). Philip Rivers will likely be without his two best offensive linemen on Sunday night as left tackle Russell Okung is joined on the injury report by center Mike Pouncey, who has a 97% pass block win rate (3rd). Right tackle Sam Tevi finished 2018 ranked last in pass blocking efficiency and has already conceded 4 sacks this year. TJ Watt ranks 4th among edge defenders with a 30% pass rush win rate and he will probably sack Rivers lining up across from Tevi. Melvin Gordon will likely see his role increase this week but it is not a solid strategy to try establish the run versus Pittsburgh’s 2nd-rated rush defense.

There’s a good chance Hodges is not ready to be an NFL quarterback and could be a significant drop-off from the already bad Mason Rudolph, although getting short passes out quickly is something he did in college at Samford in a version of the Air Raid attack (he completed over 70% of his passes) – so there could be no drop in QB level of play with that strategy. Keenan Allen figures to have a productive night but the rest of the Los Angeles offense will likely be limited. Our model favors the Chargers by 9.4 points, with a predicted total of 43.2, but Pittsburgh applies to a 95-32-3 ATS road dog bounce-back situation and Hodges could be better than expected if the Steelers play to his strengths. I’ll pass.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Steelers
  • Chargers


  • Pass Plays 35.0 37.6
  • Succ Pass Plays 42.8% 44.7%
  • Sack Rate 3.0% 9.8%
  • Int Rate 2.4% 3.9%
  • Deep Pass Rate 14.3% 11.2%
  • Big Pass Yards 42.8% 38.1%
  • NYPP 6.2 6.3


  • Rush Plays 19.0 32.2
  • RB YPR 3.3 3.8
  • Stuff Rate 26.2% 22.9%
  • Succ Rush Plays 49.7% 50.4%
  • Big Rush Yards 33.9% 30.6%
  • Yards Per Rush 3.6 3.9


  • All Snaps 54.0 69.8
  • Early Down Succ 49.6% 48.1%
  • Succ Rate 44.4% 46.8%
  • Big Yards Rate 40.7% 35.8%
  • Yards Per Play 5.2 5.1
  • Fumble Lost Rate 1.1% 1.7%
  • Time Per Play (sec) 29.0 29.9
  • Run Ratio 35.5% 45.7%
  • Starting Field Pos 30.6 31.0
  • Game Control -1.5 1.5
  • Points 19.8 22.8
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