Predicting the Chargers’ final five games

By Jason Gilder
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws for a touchdown to take a 14-3 lead in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center on September 9, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws for a touchdown to take a 14-3 lead in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center on September 9, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Week 13: @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday Dec. 2, 5:20 p.m. PST

While they are coming off a crushing late-game loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 12, this Pittsburgh Steelers team is still a force to be reckoned with.

A consistent AFC juggernaut, the Steelers are proving once again they are one of the NFL’s elite teams. The 7-3-1 squad currently leads the AFC North and is third overall in the conference. But it’s not just their usually high-powered offense that will challenge the Chargers greatly on primetime.

The Steelers’ defense is playing extremely well this season, as their pass rush is spearheading this much-improved unit. Pittsburgh leads the NFL with 39 sacks in 2018, which includes 10 from linebacker T.J. Watt. The second-year pass rusher is tied for sixth in the league in sacks. Overall, the Steelers’ defense is top-ten in total defense, rushing defense and pass defense.

But there cannot be a conversation about the Steelers without discussing their lethal offense. Long-time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is still playing with a gunslinger mentality, as his 3,664 passing yards are second-highest in the NFL. The 15-year veteran has the luxury of throwing to an explosive dynamic duo at wide receiver.

Pass catchers Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster have been spectacular in 2018, as the pair has combined for 1,929 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns this year. The surprising thing about this duo is that Smith-Schuster leads the team with 77 catches and 1,055 yards receiving. Brown has racked up 874 receiving yards through 11 games but can easily break the 1,000-yard barrier against the Chargers.

Without defensive tackle Corey Liuget and linebacker Denzel Perryman, L.A.’s defense could have trouble containing running back James Conner. The second-year tailback has recorded 849 rushing yards in 2018, third-highest in the NFL, and his 10 touchdown runs are also third-best in the league. Conner also has 49 catches for 439 receiving yards and one touchdown catch.

Pittsburgh is absolutely stacked on offense and is backed by a physically dominant defense. A Chargers win against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football would be a shocker in Week 13.

Prediction: 30-23 Steelers

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