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Chargers vs. Steelers may be playoff preview

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers congratulates Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers after the game on December 9, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. San Diego won the game 34-24. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers congratulates Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers after the game on December 9, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. San Diego won the game 34-24. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The NFL playoffs start in just over one month and the Los Angeles Chargers look more and more like a team ready to end its playoff drought.

With the playoffs in sight, it’s always a good idea to start mapping out potential opponents. Unless the Chargers can pull off an upset at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 15, they will probably be looking at a Wild Card. That means going on the road in some tough environments.

One of those environments could be the one the Chargers enter this Sunday in Pittsburgh. Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, can be one of the most raucous stadiums in the league, particularly come playoff time.

Though the Chargers and Steelers meet this Sunday, they would also be matched up in the Wild Card round of the playoffs if the season ended today. The Steelers dropped a couple of spots in the playoff standings following their loss to the Denver Broncos this past Sunday in favor of the New England Patriots and the red-hot Houston Texans, who have won eight games in a row.

Because of the way the Patriots and Texans are playing, it’s quite conceivable to believe that the Steelers and Chargers could be locked into the spots where they currently sit.

Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a place where the Bolts have had success. They’ve only won there three times in their franchise history, including a 1-2 record in the postseason. Of course, that one win was the AFC Championship Game following the 1994 season.

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The fact that these two teams could easily see each other in the playoffs, in this stadium, makes this an even more intriguing matchup than it was when NBC decided to ‘flex’ it to Sunday Night Football.

The game would be filled with storylines, including the one in which two quarterbacks from the famed 2004 draft class would meet in the postseason. Could Philip Rivers overcome the mystique of the ‘Steel Curtain’?

The Chargers will be without the services of No.1 running back Melvin Gordon on Sunday, but should these teams see each other again, that could actually be a blessing in disguise as having Gordon in the lineup in the rematch would force the Steelers to come up with a completely different game plan on the defensive side of the ball.

The Chargers have had a solid season through 12 weeks, but they can send a loud message to the rest of the league if they can knock off the Steelers on Sunday night.

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