Week 13 SNF Capper Court: Gordon Injury Looms Large Over Chargers-Steelers

SBR Staff

Monday, November 26, 2018 8:17 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 8:17 PM UTC

Welcome to the "Capper Court," where five of SBR's NFL handicappers will provide their opinions on Thursday night and Sunday night NFL games. The majority rules! It's a Chargers-Steelers clash on SNF for Week 13.

LA Chargers (8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS) at Pittsburgh (7-3-1 SU, 6-4-1 ATS)Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)Free Majority Pick: Steelers -3.5 Opening LineBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Matthew Jordan:

This could easily be a wild-card round weekend playoff preview with the Steelers atop the AFC North and likely to win that, and the Chargers holding the AFC’s top wild-card spot but only a game behind Kansas City in the AFC West. This had been scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, so the fact it was flexed to Sunday night is a nice break for the Bolts as they don’t have to deal with one of those tough 10 a.m. ET kickoffs. It’s the Chargers’ first trip to the Steel City since 2012, when they were 34-24 upset winners. Of course, it’s also a meeting between 2004 first-round draft mates in Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, both future Hall of Famers.

Rivers is probably going to have to carry the load on offense because the Chargers will be without star running back Melvin Gordon after he injured his knee in Sunday’s easy win over Arizona. He has totaled 13 TDs on the year. Rivers, meanwhile, was freaking spectacular in that win in tying an NFL record with 25 straight completions and setting the accuracy mark overall by finishing 28-for-29. Rivers might be having his best year. Any shot I had of taking the Chargers, though, went out the window when Gordon went down. Austin Ekeler is a fine third-down back, but he’s not Gordon. In addition, it looks to be chilly and rather nasty in Pittsburgh and that’s not to the warm-weather Chargers’ benefit. L.A. is just 2-7 ATS in its past nine December games, while Pittsburgh has covered its past six after a loss.

Swinging Johnson:

The Steelers fell 24-17 to the Broncos at Mile High on Sunday, and you just had to feel that this loss was more crushing than any they have suffered this season. Instead of trying to run the ball just two yards removed from the Denver goal line, Big Ben targeted Antonio Brown but it was Denver’s defensive tackle Shelby Harris who snagged the ball and sealed Pittsburgh’s fate. On the flipside, Philip Rivers was as automatic as a tax bill in an historically accurate performance when he went 28-of-29 for 259 yards and three touchdowns in the Chargers’ 45-10 win over the Cardinals. But it was a Pyrrhic victory as the league’s most lethal weapon, Melvin Gordon, suffered an MCL injury which has not yet been categorized as a tear. Nevertheless, it’s doubtful he will suit up on Sunday night and his absence will have reverberating effects on the Bolts’ offense.

I believe that the Steelers have some real value here because the public has short-term memories and will think only about Rivers’ passing heroics against a lousy Cardinals team. That’s fine with me because the Steelers rank seventh defending the pass while the Chargers check in at No. 14 in that category. Furthermore, Big Ben has Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster at his disposal and can certainly match Rivers weapon for weapon now that Gordon is most likely removed from the game plan. Lay the number and look for the Steelers to rebound at home.

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When I heard the Melvin Gordon news #fantasyfootball pic.twitter.com/d4yKRAEvBU

— Aj Sutter (@AjSutter) November 25, 2018
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Doug Upstone:

Both the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh have suffered defeats to Denver in recent games. In each case the turnover margin was the difference, with the Chargers at -2 and the Steelers are -4. The Bolts played a very angry game against Arizona and beat them into a pulp, but lost star running back Mel Gordon in the process to an MCL injury, of which the full extent is not known as of this writing. Pittsburgh gained 527 yards on Denver, but only scored 17 points in the loss. Watching that film will make Steelers coaches and players grimace.

For all the praise heaped on RB James Conner, Pittsburgh has lost faith in him or the offensive line the last two weeks, running just over 20 percent of the time. It's not like Steelers were getting blown out in either case, they just choose to pass and maybe Conner is wearing down and this is where they could use Le'Veon Bell. Pittsburgh is always tough at home, but Philip Rivers is the same on the road and the Chargers are 5-1 (4-2 ATS) away from their orphaned home. As over a field goal underdog, the Bolts are 31-14 ATS in road games in Weeks 10 through 13 and worth strong consideration.

Kevin Stott:

An AFC Sunday Night Football showdown from the Mustard Palace between two teams with veteran QBs who love to throw the football and who’ve both been pretty good in the Steelers (W6-7) and Chargers (W7-8) with the Pittsburgh D and O having been very solid since Week 5 although the Broncos did somewhat hold them in check in Week 12 in the Rockies.

Here in this battle from the Steel City, expect veteran Roethlisberger (61-52 ATS at Home) to methodically work the Clock and the Crowd and turn it on late when his Black and Yellow (6-4-1 ATS) will need it most against Philip Rivers (38-22 ATS Road Underdog) and the Bolts (4-1 ATS on Road), who won't have RB Melvin Gordon but do have the best D in the AFC West (219 PA). The SNF Trends show the Steelers to be 9-9 SU and 12-15 ATS as chalks with the Chargers 4-4 SU on the Road and 9-9 ATS in the role of underdogs while the series Trends show the Steelers to be a profitable 3-1 ATS L4 and 5-2 ATS the L7 at Heinz Field. The Site and situation loom large.

Rainman:

Bettors may want to emphasize the injury of running back Melvin Gordon. But he’s relatively replaceable. L.A.’s O-Line ranks seventh in run blocking and Austin Ekeler is one of the better backups. Instead, the return of Joey Bosa from injury is more important. He had two sacks last Sunday against Arizona and will give the Steelers a lot to account for. Earlier in the season, the Chargers had struggled against prolific passing attacks like that of the Rams because they struggled to pressure the quarterback. Even the best secondary is helpless if the opposing quarterback has all day to throw. With Bosa back, the Chargers’ deep secondary will flex its talent.

Pittsburgh’s pass defense is mediocre in terms of opposing passer rating. Philip Rivers, though, is having an elite season, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and producing a 26-to-six touchdown-to-interception ratio. Above all, he’s establishing chemistry with Keenan Allen, who has three touchdowns in his past three games. The Steelers’ pass attack will receive a test that it hasn’t in a while. The Chargers are 4-1 ATS on the road. Let’s make it 5-1 after Sunday.

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