The LA Chargers host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football in Week 11 that feels like a must-win for the Chargers. At 5-4, the Chargers cannot afford to fall behind in the AFC playoff picture nor in the AFC West race.
It is so much more than the record, though. A loss would put the Chargers at 1-4 in their last five, which is a better reflection of the team than its 4-1 start. Not only that, but losing this game given the circumstances simply hurts the team's stock.
If the Chargers cannot win in Week 11 despite all of the Steelers injuries in their favor then they don't deserve to be a playoff team, plain and simple. Playoff teams win games like this, especially coming off of a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sure, in theory, the Chargers could get red hot and even win out and still make the playoffs, but why should we expect that if they lose this game and drop four of five? At some point, a team has to look itself in the mirror and the fans have to tamper the expectations.
Losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11 would be a massive reality check.
The Steelers injuries that the LA Chargers are benefitting from:
While Ben Roethlisberger could play in this game, the Steelers are preparing for Mason Rudolph to start in place of him. Big Ben was put on the COVID-19 list late last week after self-reporting symptoms to the team. The chances of him playing appear slim to none.
All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also won't be playing in this game as he too is on the COVID-19 list. This opens up the deep ball for Justin Herbert and the offense. We give our well wishes to both Fitzpatrick and Big Ben.
Chase Claypool did not play in Week 10 and while he could play against the Chargers, it is still up in the air. Starting guard Kevin Dotson doesn't appear like he is going to play, neither does fellow starting guard (and former Charger) Trai Turner.
Joe Haden is questionable for Week 11 and he may not play and it would be legitimately shocking if T.J. Watt played after hurting his knee.
Those are a lot of impact players that are out and yes, the LA Chargers could be without Joey Bosa, who was just put on the covid-19 list. Regardless, the Chargers have the advantage over a Steelers team that probably is not that good anyway and is extremely banged up.
This is a huge measuring stick for the LA Chargers. While they don't have to win by a ton and a win is a win at the end of the day, if they lose to the same team that just tied with the Detroit Lions then there is a serious problem going on in LA.