The Pittsburgh Steelers face a tough schedule over the final weeks of the season with three of their last five opponents currently boasting more wins on the year than them. However, with news emerging of significant injuries to key offensive starters belonging to the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals, it looks like two of their upcoming games might not be as daunting as they first appeared.
While a knee injury suffered by Melvin Gordon in the Chargers’ game on Sunday will not end his season altogether, it seems it will keep him out of the matchup with Pittsburgh in Week 13.
#Chargers star RB Melvin Gordon was diagnosed with a grade 2 MCL sprain suffered in yesterday’s blowout win, sources say. He had his MRI last night. Gordon is out the next few weeks, but should be back before the end of the regular season if all goes well.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 26, 2018
With Phillips Rivers under center for Los Angeles, the contest will still be challenging for the Steelers, but there can be little question the Chargers are weaker on paper without him.
Having lost five of their last six games, the Bengals’ season has been in freefall since losing to Pittsburgh in Week 6 and their remaining schedule just became a lot more difficult after they placed Andy Dalton on injured reserve on Monday.
The #Bengals just placed QB Andy Dalton on Injured Reserve, ending his season with this thumb injury.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 26, 2018
With Dalton sidelined, the starting job will now fall to the inexperienced Jeff Driskel, backed up by the newly signed Tom Savage. Originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft, Driskel was cut before the year began. Claimed off waivers by the Bengals to be their third string quarterback, the first time he saw snaps in a real game was Week 7 this year.
No one wishes injury on an opponent and thankfully neither player appears to dealing with a career threatening issue, but one team’s misfortunate is often another team’s gain. Sadly, Pittsburgh has faced more than enough opponents missing key starters before and have failed capitalize on the opportunity. That being said, if they have real playoff ambitions this season, these games against Los Angeles and Cincinnati are ones they cannot afford to lose.