The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the San Diego Chargers this week as the Steel Curtain tries to take the next step toward making the playoffs.
The 7-5 Steelers are tied with their division foe, Cincinnati Bengals, for the last spot in the playoffs.
The team is coming off a tough road victory against its rival, the Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers enter the game on a four-game losing streak, and have gone from 4-4 and in the playoff picture to 4-8 and well out of it.
With Week 14 bringing massive playoff implications, the Steelers look to ride Charlie Batch to a second straight victory.
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Sunday, December 9 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL.com
Betting Line: Pittsburgh -6.5 (predictem,com)
San Diego Injury Report (via Yahoo! Sports as of Dec. 4, 2012)
|Eric Weddle S||Probable||Concussion|
|Jarret Johnson LB||Questionable||Back|
|Dante Rosario TE||Doubtful||Hamstring|
|Darrell Stuckey S||Out||Hamstring|
|Eddie Royal WR||Out||Hamstring|
|Donald Butler LB||Out||Groin|
Pittsburgh Injury Report (via Yahoo! Sports as of Dec. 4, 2012)
|Troy Polamalu S||Probable||Calf|
|Antonio Brown WR||Probable||Ankle|
|Jerricho Cotchery WR||Questionable||Ribs|
|Willie Colon G||Questionable||Knee|
|LaMarr Woodley LB||Out||Ankle|
|Ben Roethlisberger QB||Out||Right shoulder|
|Byron Leftwich QB||Out||Ribs|
|Mike Adams T||Out||Ankle|
|Ike Taylor CB||Day-to-Day||Fractured right ankle|
What's at Stake?
This game is essentially meaningless for the Chargers except for those players who are trying to save their jobs, but it means much, much more for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh is trying to move ahead of the Bengals and take that coveted sixth playoff spot, and a win on Sunday would greatly help them do so.
San Diego Defense/Special Teams
Normally I'm not a big fan of San Diego's defense, but this week brings with it a favorable matchup against third-string quarterback Charlie Batch.
The Steelers will be inclined to run, and when they do so it will be right into the Chargers' sixth-ranked rushing defense.
There aren't many good plays for the Bolts against Pittsburgh's tough defense, and I expect this to be a low-scoring game.
Pittsburgh Defense/Special Teams
Pittsburgh has a very stingy defense, and it ranks first in the league against the pass and fifth against the run.
Considering how bad the Chargers have been playing, I'm thinking that Pitt's defense is going to have a big day.
What They're Saying
The Chargers are attempting to replace even more injured players this week, as they attempt to bolster a depleted offensive line.
Signed offensive linemen Colin Baxter and Stephen Schilling. Receiver Seyi Ajirotutu and center David Molk placed on IR.— San Diego Chargers (@chargers) December 4, 2012
The Steelers, on the other hand, aren't worried so much about their line as they are about the health of Big Ben.
"Ben will be given an opportunity to prove whether or not he is healthy, obviously @charliebatch16 is our guy gameplanning right now" Tomlin— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 4, 2012
Key Matchup: Which team's offense can get going early
This game is going to be a defensive struggle, as San Diego's offense becomes flustered by Pittsburgh's defense, and Pittsburgh's offense lacks the firepower to consistently score on the Chargers.
The biggest question in this game is which team's offense can get going early in this slugfest.
I see San Diego's woes on the offensive line holding the Chargers back, losing another low-scoring affair in Pittsburgh.
Predicted Score: Steelers 17, Chargers 7