The Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers will bring down the curtain on Sunday’s round of NFL action when they collide under the lights at SoFi Stadium. The Steelers are coming off a disappointing 16-16 tie with the Detroit Lions at home while the Chargers are coming off a 27-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at home.
Both sides will be eager to bounce back after their separate disappointments in Week 10, but something’s gotta give. If the NFL odds were any indication, the Chargers are heavily favored to emerge triumphant at the expense of the Steelers. Does the market have it right?
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, November 21, 2021 – 8:20 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
NFL Odds and Lines Early Movement
Top sportsbooks posted lookahead lines for this intriguing showdown with the Chargers tipped as the field goal favorites and the total projected to 48.5 points. However, following the less than stellar Week 10 results, the line reopened with the Chargers tipped at 5.5 points and the total set to 49 points.
Since markets reopened, the line has oscillated between 5.5 and 6 points as the public is leaning towards the Chargers. Consensus betting reports reveal almost 60% of early bets have gone towards the hosts. The total, by contrast, reopened on 47 points, down a point and a half from the lookahead line of 48.5 points.
The Steelers Tie the Lions
The Steelers were party to one of the worst games of the season that left many scratching their heads. Granted Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19, but one still had much higher expectations for Mike Tomlin’s side and especially when they were playing host to the Lions.
Certainly, the oddsmakers had higher expectations because the game odds closed with the Steelers tipping as the 6-point road favorites against the spread. And yet, somehow, the Lions managed to travel to Heinz Field and leave with a tie. Thereby, avoiding the ignominy of a 0-9 start to the season.
The Steelers had plenty of opportunities to win the game, but too many mistakes, penalties, and sloppy play proved to be their undoing. Tight end Pat Freiermuth’s fumble at the 38-yard line with eight seconds left in overtime is going to be the most prominent mistake that will be remembered and talked about, but it wouldn’t be fair to hang all the blame on it. The Steelers didn’t have any timeouts left anyway, so it was a bit of a crapshoot.
The game unfolded on a cold, rainy day in Western Pennsylvania, and as the game progressed the rain seemed to get heavier. Likely the elements factored in the delivery – it was an ugly game. Backup Mason Rudolph started in Roethlisberger’s place, but he had little warning as news of Roethlisberger going into Covid-19 protocol broke the night before the game. Understandably, he wasn’t great. He wasn’t awful. Rudolph passed for 242 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
The Chargers Fall Victim to Vikings
Justin Herbert and the Chargers failed to come through as the firm home favorites in a 27-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings – albeit it’s hardly a surprising outcome. The Vikings are the quintessential dangerous floaters, a team that most would prefer to avoid playing. They can never be counted out, and they can play up to their opponents and beat some of the league’s elite teams on a good day.
For the Chargers, the loss marked their third loss in four games as they slipped to a 5-4 record. Things have gone slightly awry for Herbert and company since they went on a bit of a tear and upset the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and Cleveland Browns.
Whether it’s the weight of expectation and the pressure of the gridiron, something seems to have spooked the Chargers ever since. They were steamrolled 34-6 by the Ravens and lost 27-24 to the Patriots. The only bright spot was a 27-24 win over the Eagles in Week 9.
NFL Predictions and Picks
The Steelers haven’t impressed this season, but they’re second in the AFC North with a 5-3-1 record on the season. All five of their wins were too close for comfort, underscoring their perplexing inability to truly dominate an opponent on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.
The Chargers started brightly but lost their way in recent weeks. Their run of poor form is a bit worrying, but things have worked out in their favor across the division and they find themselves second in the AFC West standings.
So, there’s all to play for here, and both sides need this win to compete for playoff seedings down the stretch. All things considered, it’s hard to buy what the Steelers are selling right now, especially after settling on a tie with the Lions. If that result doesn’t motivate the Chargers to perk up, what will?
Other considerations for this matchup include the uncertainty about Big Ben’s availability. As well, TJ Watt is questionable. The Chargers have had several players hit the Covid-19 list this week, including Joey Bosa and Jerry Tilly. It’s uncertain whether the pair is vaccinated (or not), and/or if they’ll clear protocols before Sunday.
Due to these question marks, bettors can easily be forgiven for waiting before betting this game on their NFL picks. Having said that the Chargers are the much better team and they should be able to handle the Steelers to clinch the win and cover here.
NFL Picks: Chargers -5.5 (-110) with Bet365