Phenomenal Playoff Predictions : Chargers @ Steelers

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2009

Phenomenal Previews Presents : The 2009 NFL Playoffs (Divisional Round)

San Diego Chargers (8-8) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

The best defense in the league matches up against the team who just took out the hottest team in football, the Indianapolis Colts. Think back to the regular season match up in Week 11.

The Steelers offense put up 400 total yards, and yet only came away with an 11-10 victory. That speaks volumes for the Chargers defense. It also speaks volumes for the Pittsburgh defense. This game will not be decided by quarterbacks or wide eeceivers. It will be decided by Linebackers, and by Safeties.

Chargers Keys To The Game :

Rattle Ben Roethlisberger

We all know that Ben’s once again suffering from a concussion. That makes three in three years. The Chargers are going to have to hit Ben early, and hit him often to make sure he can’t get into a rhythm versus the Chargers 31st ranked secondary.  

The front seven of the Chargers has to get pressure on Roethlisberger. And they’ve got to make sure that they wrap him up. He’s too big and strong to take down with an arm tackle.

Get Sproles Going

They’re facing the number two rushing defense in the league. Possibly no LaDainian Tomlinson. Scary thought for most teams, without your “top” running back, how are you going to gain yards on the ground? The Chargers however always seem to have an answer, whether it be Michael Turner last year, or Darren Sproles this year. Sproles has got to maneuver his way through the Steelers defense.

Steelers Keys To The Game :

Protect Ben Roethlisberger

Face it. This has been the motto for the team all year long, and in most games, they’ve failed to do it. Roethlisberger’s been sacked more times than any Quarterback in the league not named Matt Cassel. He’s hurt. He has a concussion. Headaches.

He’s the toughest quarterback in the league though, and it won’t slow him down. Roethlisberger has got to make good reads. If he plays like he did against the Colts, then the Steelers are going to be watching the AFC Championship game.

Control The Clock

Keep Phillip Rivers and Darren Sproles off the field. Simple enough, right? The more rest the Steelers allow their defense, the better they’ll play. Rivers tied with Drew Brees for the most Touchdown passes in the regular season this year.

He had the highest passer rating of any quarterback in the league by a large margin. A tired Steelers defense isn’t a top notch Steelers defense. They need to let the offense get in a rhythm. Use Parker, Moore, and Russell in tandem, much like the Giants use their three running backs. If the Steelers establish the run, they win the game.

TJ’s Prediction :

Steelers 13 Chargers 10