NFL Divisional Playoff Breakdown: San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

ctsports picksAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2009

This divisional-round matchup is actually a rematch from Nov. 16, 2008 at Heinz Field, which finished with a Pittsburgh win, 11-10. Pittsburgh didn't score a touchdown despite making three trips inside San Diego's 20-yard line.

One drive ended when Mewelde Moore was dropped for a one-yard loss on 4th-and-goal from inside the one, and Pittsburgh repeatedly hurt itself with 13 penalties. Pittsburgh dominated the statistics in this close game with a 2-1 advantage in yardage for the game.

Since this game, though, both teams have improved and think this will be another close game. Let's breakdown this divisional-round matchup.

San Diego is coming off an upset of Indianapolis at home in the wild-card round. The Chargers have been in a must-win playoff mode for five weeks now and riding a five-game win streak they have a ton of confidence.

These Chargers are not scared of being the underdog road team, as they were in the same situation last year when they upset Indy at home in the divisional round. Offensively, this team has hit there stride even without L.T. being able to play.

Phillip Rivers has moved the ball with control passing attack and has stayed away from turnovers. Also at RB, Darren Sproles has been on fire filling in for L.T. and if it is possible, he might be more effective.

Defensively, this team has given some yardage the last five weeks but they have been getting stops or getting turnovers when they needed. Don't count out this gritty team for an upset winner this weekend.

Pittsburgh is coming off a bye last week, which was much needed, as they were banged up at some key positions. Reports are that all of Pittsburgh starters will be a full go this week, so injuries should not be an excuse.

This year, the Steelers have been winning but basically doing it on the back of there defense, as their offense has the poorest offensive yards from scrimmage 311 per game of any team left in the playoffs.

Both the running and passing attack has been poor but coaches and players seem to think the health of several key starters will fix their poor offensive efforts. Defensively this team is one of the top teams in the NFL and have won more than half of their games because of them.

Harrison at DE is the defensive player of the year with 15 sacks this year. Pittsburgh at home will count again on there defense and running attack to hopefully lead them to victory.

This game might be the best match up of all the Divisional game this weekend. Both teams are playing very well and both teams have had recent playoff success so they will not be overwhelmed by the situation.

Odds-makers have made the Steelers a six-point favorite, which seems about right in my estimation. Underdogs have done well in the divisional rounds, in recent years, against the spread, going 14-6 the last five years in this round. This trend is hard to ignore, and with the close game earlier this year, it could make a nail biter for most bettors.


Get Craig's winners against the spread for this game and all sports at CT Sports Picks!