The Pittsburgh Steelers will be counting on their second game without injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to go better than the first when they travel across country to visit the San Diego Chargers on Monday night. The Steelers couldn’t hold a 13-point fourth-quarter lead at home en route to a 23-20 overtime loss to bitter division rival Baltimore.
Backup Michael Vick threw for only 124 yards in place of Roethlisberger but expects to be sharper with more time to grasp the team’s offense. “It is a great offense, but it takes some work and time to learn. I am piecing it together every day like a puzzle,” Vick said. The Chargers have no such concerns at quarterback – Philip Rivers leads the league with 1,248 yards and gets back one of his favorite targets in tight end Antonio Gates, who returns from a four-game suspension. Rivers threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns last week as San Diego averted a third straight loss with a last-second victory at Cleveland.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Chargers -3. O/U: 45.5
Steelers – CB C. Allen (questionable Monday, head), LB R. Shazier (questionable Monday, shoulder), DT D. McCullers (questionable Monday, knee), TE M. Spaeth (questionable Monday, hand), WR M. Bryant (doubtful Monday, knee), QB B. Roethlisberger (Mid November, knee).
Chargers – WR J. Jones (probable Monday, ankle), CB J. Verrett (questionable Monday, foot), LB T. Williams (questionable Monday, foot), S J. Addae (questionable Monday, ankle), T K. Dunlap (questionable Monday, concussion), C. Watt (questionable Monday, groin), CB C. Mager (questionable Monday, hamstring), G O. Franklin (questionable Monday, ankle), CB B. Flowers (questionable Monday, concussion), WR M. Floyd (questionable Monday concussion), WR S. Johnson (doubtful Monday, hamstring).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a great night for football in San Diego. It will be partly cloudy with just a five percent chance of rain. There will also be a very slight breeze blowing at three miles per hour towards the Eastern endzone.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Steelers (+2) – Chargers (+0.5) + home field (-3) = Chargers -4.5
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (2-2, 1-3 ATS, 2-2 O/U): Gates needs one scoring pass to join Tony Gonzalez (111) as the only tight ends with 100 in their career and his return comes at an opportune time for San Diego, which saw wide receivers Stevie Johnson (hamstring) and Malcom Floyd (concussion) hurt in last week’s victory. Injuries are also wreaking havoc on the offensive line, one of the reasons first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon is off to a slow start in his rookie campaign, failing to surpass 51 yards in three of his four games. The Chargers have been generous against the run, yielding 126.8 yards per game.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (2-2, 3-0-1 ATS, 1-3 O/U): One player most impacted Roethlisberger’s absence was star wideout Antonio Brown, who led the league in passing yards last season but saw his NFL record streak of 35 consecutive games with at least five catches and 50 yards come to an end. Speedster Martavis Bryant, who had eight TD receptions last season, also returns from a four-game suspension while running back Le’Veon Bell will continue to be the focal point of the offense after rushing for 129 yards last week and catching seven passes for the second straight game. Pittsburgh has been stingy on defense, allowing 18.8 points.
* Steelers are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
* Favorite is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
* Under is 6-1-1 in the Steelers last eight games overall.
* Under is 20-7 in the Chargers last 27 versus the AFC.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is backing the home team in this Monday night matchup, with 58.67 percent of the wagers on the Chargers.