This week’s edition of Sunday Night Football looked a lot more attractive before Ben Roethlisberger went down with an injury for the Steelers. Instead of being a big-time game between two AFC title contenders, it is now a virtual elimination game for the AFC playoff picture. A win for either team will keep their postseason hopes on life support, while a loss will send them hurtling towards the bottom of the Conference standings.
The Chargers head into Sunday’s game at 2-3 while the Steelers limp in at 1-4. That puts both franchises two games behind their respective division leaders. Desperation is going to be a key theme for both teams. That makes it a particularly interesting game from a betting perspective.
As always you need to consult our Statschecker tool for the game before you make your final wagers. On the surface it might seem obvious to take the Chargers -6.5. However, there are some reasons why you might want to consider backing the underdogs instead. In this piece, I’ll walk you through five interesting facts Statschecker has to prepare you for Sunday Night Football.
- Both teams like the under
It’s easy to understand why the Steelers offense has struggled to score points this year. Losing Roethlisberger has taken a lot of the sting out of what Mike Tomlin’s group does with the ball in their hands. However, it’s also important to note that the Chargers have struggled even with a healthy Philip Rivers at the helm.
Add all that up and it’s a recipe for the under on Sunday night. Pittsburgh has hit the under in three of their five games while Los Angeles has done so four out of five times this year. This will not be a shootout. Look elsewhere for your Fantasy Football stars this weekend.
- This may not be a home game for the Chargers
Los Angeles has only won once in its three home games on the year. Part of the reason they struggle so much is because they lack a true home field advantage. Playing in Carson effectively makes them NFL gypsies.
In sharp contrast, the Steelers have a rabid fan base that spans the entire United States. Expect to see a lot of black and yellow in the stands on Sunday night. It might not be enough to power Pittsburgh to victory, but they certainly won’t suffer from any rabid crowd noise from Chargers fans.
- The Chargers are bad against the spread
Los Angeles hasn’t just struggled to win games this year, they’ve also struggled mightily to meet expectations. Their record of 1-3-1 against the spread ranks them 28th in the NFL.
That information should at least give you pause before making a big get on the Chargers to cover the spread. Backing them on the money line is a pretty easy call, but those 6.5 points headed Pittsburgh’s way should make veteran bettors nervous.
- Sunday night games have been weird this season
This interesting fact doesn’t have anything to do with the two teams involved in this game. It is, however, interesting to note that the underdog has emerged victorious in four of the five Sunday Night Football games this season.
Of course, not many of those underdogs came into the game at 1-4. The Steelers are more than just a below-average team. They are a bad team. Don’t get overwhelmed with the mystical notion that playing on the big stage is going to suddenly allow them to propel themselves towards mediocrity.
- Devlin Hodges or Mason Rudolph?
Which way you should be this game may come down entirely to which quarterback you believe will play for the Steelers. Things are still up in the air between Hodges and Rudolph at the moment. Neither is a great option, but Rudolph is the more experienced (and probably more talented) of the pair.
The real question for both signal callers is whether or not they are capable of pushing the ball down the field. The Chargers secondary is there for the taking, but Pittsburgh might not be a team that can take advantage.
The play here is still the Chargers
Neither of these teams has done anything to inspire a lot of confidence this season, but Los Angeles is the healthier of the two squads. The sheer quarterback advantage they have in this game is enough reason to lay the 6.5 points and back the Chargers to keep their season alive. There’s no reason to push the line any further, but expecting Los Angeles to win by at least one touchdown is the way to go on Sunday night.