SERIES HISTORY: 30th regular-season meeting, Steelers lead series, 22-7 and are 14-1 against them at home. The Chargers got that win in their last visit. 34-24 in 2012. Overall, the Steelers have won 9 of the past 11 meetings.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers continue to pile up the yardage, but in the past two games they have seven turnovers. The Steelers outgained the Broncos by almost 200 yards, but they lost, 24-17. The Chargers are fourth in the NFL in scoring defense and ninth in total defense so the Steelers will have to be on their details to score this week. Ben Roethlisberger is second in the league in passing yards, but he also has the second-most interceptions in the league. If he can play mistake-free against the Chargers the Steelers will have a great chance to win. But if the turnovers continue the Steelers will find themselves in another close game.
The Steelers are showing some weakness against the run, and they'll have to correct that this week because the Chargers are one of the best running teams in the NFL. They average 5.0 yards per carry and 129 rushing yards per game. The Steelers have given up an average of 151 rushing yards in the past two games and allowed Phillip Lindsay of the Broncos to rush for over 100 yards on Sunday. Lindsay became the first back to go over 100 against the Steelers this season. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is injured and won't play in this game, but Lindsay and others have proven that you don't need a big-name running back to have success against the Steelers.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
--OUT: T Joe Barksdale (not injury related), RB Melvin Gordon (knee), DT Brandon Mebane (not injury related)
--QUESTIONABLE: WR Tyrell Williams (quadricep)
--OUT: T Marcus Gilbert (knee)
--DOUBTFUL: S Morgan Burnett (back)
--QUESTIONABLE: LB Bud Dupree (pectoral), CB Cameron Sutton (not injury related)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Steelers CB Joe Haden vs. Chargers QB Philip Rivers. Haden has been the Steelers' best cornerback this season, but he's coming off a game in which Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders caught seven passes for 86 yards against him, including a 38-yard pass that set up the tying score in the third quarter. Rivers is coming off an epic performance against the Cardinals when he completed 28 of 29 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns.
--Steelers RB James Conner vs. Chargers LB Jatavis Brown. Conner only has 90 combined rushing yards in the past two games and he had a crucial fumble against the Broncos. Conner had four consecutive 100-yard running games during the Steelers' six-game winning streak, but he hasn't had one in the past three games. Getting back on track against the Chargers would help boost Conner's confidence. Brown is the Chargers' second-leading tackler.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Steelers WR/RS Ryan Switzer was acquired just before the start of the regular season, but he has quickly ascended to an important role in the offense. Switzer played a season-high 52 offensive snaps against the Broncos on Sunday and caught six passes for 67 yards, also season highs. Rookie second-round pick James Washington was supposed to be the No. 3 receiver this season, but he's disappointed. Washington has just eight receptions for 77 yards despite playing nearly half the offensive snaps this season.
FAST FACTS: CHARGERS QB PHILIP RIVERS completed 28 of 29 (96.6 pct.) for 259 yards with 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 138.4 rating last week. His 25 consecutive completions were most in single game in NFL history & tied with RYAN TANNEHILL (Weeks 6-7, 2015) for most in league history at any point. His 96.6 comp. pct. was highest in single game in NFL history (min. 20 att.), surpassing HOFer KURT WARNER. Has 2+ TD passes in each of team's 1st 11 games this season & is 1 of 4 QBs in NFL history with multiple TD passes in each of team's 1st 11 games of season. ... RB AUSTIN EKELER had 103 scrimmage yards (68 rec., 35 rush) & rush TD last week, his 3rd career game with 100+ scrimmage yards. Aims for his 3rd in row with 65+ scrimmage yards. ... WR KEENAN ALLEN had 7 catches for 72 yards & TD in Week 12. Has TD catch in each of his past 3. ... WR MIKE WILLIAMS had second multi-TD game last week. ... DE JOEY BOSA had 2 sacks last week, his 6th-career game with 2+ sacks. ... Rookie S DERWIN JAMES had INT last week. Is only NFL player with 75+ tackles (78), 3+ sacks (3.5) & 2+ INTs (2). ... STEELERS QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER completed 41 of 56 (73.2 pct.) for 462 yards last week. Aims for his 4th in row with 300+ pass yards. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 3,664 pass yards & is 1 of 2 NFL players (MATT RYAN, 9 seasons) with 3,500+ pass yards in each of past 6 seasons. ... RB JAMES CONNER had 95 scrimmage yards (53 rush, 42 rec.) last week. Aims for his 4th in row at home with rush TD. In 5 home games this season, has 579 scrimmage yards (115.8 per game) & 6 rush TDs. Is 1 of 4 NFL players with 1,300+ scrimmage yards (1,302) & 10+ TDs (11) in 2018. ... WR ANTONIO BROWN has 10 TD catches in his past 9. In his past 10 at home, has 1,015 rec. yards (101.5 per game) & 12 TD catches. Ties for NFL lead with 11 TD catches & is 1 of 3 in NFL (DAVANTE ADAMS & TYREEK HILL) with 800+ rec. yards (874) & 10+ rec. TDs. ... WR JuJU SMITH-SCHUSTER tied career-high with 13 catches & had 189 rec. yards, incl. 97-yard TD catch last week. Is 1 of 3 players in NFL history (GUS TINSLEY & LAMAR MILLER) with multiple scrimmage TDs of 97+ yards. Aims for his 3rd in row with 100+ rec. yards. ... T ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA had 1st-career rec. TD last week. ... LB T.J. WATT has 3 sacks & 3 FFs in his past 3. ... LB VINCE WILLIAMS aims for his 4th in row with sack.
PREDICTION: In a game that was flexed to Sunday night, the Chargers could have to deal some elements. It's a great matchup between two quarterbacks both selected in the 2004 draft.
OUR PICK: Steelers, 27-23