As the Pittsburgh Steelers are out west this weekend to play the Los Angeles Chargers for Sunday night’s Football Night in America, not only are the Chargers favored by nearly everyone to win this game but Pittsburgh is facing playing the game with multiple backups.
We all know Mason Rudolph is out still recovering from his concussion so taking the snaps will be Devlin “Duck” Hodges. I heard on the radio the other day something about rookie quarterbacks drafted or signed as unrestricted free agents and so I did some research.
There were 11 quarterbacks drafted in 2019 and another 10 signed after the draft as undrafted rookies. Initially Devlin Hodges was not among them. Now he’s a starting NFL quarterback. He joins Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray, and Dwayne Haskins as starters this season. Pretty incredible story.
Pittsburgh will go into this game banged up as already declared out are Mark Barron, Roosevelt Nix remains out, Rudolph, Jaylen Samuels, James Washington, and Steve Nelson. This means some will step into their spots and others will be counted on to contribute.
Artie Burns will now start in place of Nelson which gives Burns a great chance to get back what he once had and possibly stealing his job back. As for the receiving corps, with Washington’s absence Donte Moncrief should be getting some opportunities for the first time since he was benched after game two. If he drops passes on Sunday night, expect him to be cut on Monday.
WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL
If last Sunday was any indication, Devlin Hodges should have no problem running the Steelers offense. But he will need big help from everyone around him. With Jaylen Samuels out, another rookie Bennie Snell Jr. will be counted on to perform.
To the outside it will be the usual JuJu Smith-Schuster and yet another rookie Diontae Johnson expected to carry the load. Then there will be Moncrief as when he lines up, Steelers fans everywhere will be holding their breath and expecting disaster. The game plan will probably be a lot of tosses to the tight ends.
The Chargers are 11th against the run but in order for Hodges to be able to get a passing game going, the running game will have to rush for some positive yardage as well. L.A. is 25th defending the pass, so they can be thrown on.
WHEN THE CHARGERS HAVE THE BALL
Everyone remembers last year’s game that was a disaster for the Steelers as they blew a lead and lost. That was on the defense. Philip Rivers is dangerous no doubt. Thus far in 2019 he has thrown seven touchdowns and has been picked off four times. He’s been sacked 11 times in five games and so this is a big opportunity for the Steelers to add to their season total of 19 which is the NFL’s third best trailing only the Carolina Panthers’ 20 and New England’s 25.
Melvin Gordon returned from a long hold out last weekend and gained only 31 yards on the ground. While he was out Austin Ekeler filled in and has run for 227 yards. Pittsburgh’s defense has improved dramatically since the opening day blowout and the Chargers will have a tough time producing if the Steelers ‘D can keep up the consistency.
For the third straight week, the Steelers are in “MUST WIN” mode. A loss drops them to 1-5 and puts them in deep, deep waters. But almost everyone is picking the Chargers to win, so basically, the Steelers have nothing to lose. Pittsburgh loves being on prime time and so that is their favor. Also, knowing their record, and with Hodge’s attitude, the Steelers might take more chances on offense.
As much as I have been picking the Steelers to win this season, I have a bad feeling about this one. My gut says they have the talent and tools to win this game even with the injuries, but my brain is siding with the expert. Chargers 24 Steelers 17.
For the record, the Steelers and Chargers have played times and Pittsburgh has won 23 of those games but in the playoffs, Los Angeles has won two of three.
There is some UFC on tonight and it will be Joanna Jędrzejczyk facing Michelle Waterson and I like Waterson in this one. That is the main event and the co-main features yet another Gracie, this one being Kron who takes on Cub Swanson and I like Grace to win this fight. Then there is a tough James Vick trying to get back in the win column as he takes on Niko Price but this one could go either way.
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