The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) head to the west coast in Week 5 to take on the San Diego Chargers (2-2) on ESPN's Monday Night Football. Vegas has the Steelers listed as 3.5-point underdogs to the Chargers.
The Steelers suffered a tough 23-20 divisional loss at Heinz Field to the Baltimore Ravens last week. With star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sidelined by a knee injury, backup Michael Vick was assigned the task of leading the team on a short week. Vick didn't turn the ball over, and played well enough to win, but two missed field goals and a porous run defense derailed what would have been a crucial victory for Pittsburgh.
The Chargers, meanwhile, secured a 30-27 win over the visiting Cleveland Browns in Week 4. The win over the Browns snapped a two-game losing streak for the Chargers, and kept Philip Rivers and company alive in the race for the AFC West division title.
Week 4 Recap
For the second time this year, the Steelers finished with a push, losing by three points in Week 4. Pittsburgh is now 2-0-2 against the spread on the season.
Steelers to win +125
Longest touchdown over 41.5 yards -115
Heath Miller over 36.5 yards receiving -115
Le'Veon Bell over 25 rushing attempts +750
Under 44 total points -110
This game is all but a must win for both the Steelers and the Chargers. Pittsburgh needs a win to keep pace with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North, while San Diego needs a win to keep pace with the undefeated Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
The Steelers enter Monday night with a defense that ranks No. 8 in points allowed (18.75 PPG). On the other side, the Chargers boast the NFL's No. 14-ranked scoring offense (24.0 PPG).
Steelers +155 ($10.00 wins $15.50)
Chargers -175 ($10.00 wins $5.71)
I like the Steelers to win straight up here. With a full week of practice under his belt, Vick should look more comfortable in the offense, and will take a few shots downfield to speedy receivers Antonio Brown, Darius Heyward-Bey and Markus Wheaton. Both of San Diego's starting cornerbacks, Brandon Flowers (concussion) and Jason Verrett (foot) are listed as questionable on the injury report.
The Chargers offense looked great against the Browns last week, but the offensive line is riddled with injuries. Starting guard Orlando Franklin will miss the game with an ankle, starting tackle King Dunlap is listed as doubtful with a concussion, and starting center Chris Watt is questionable with a groin.
Pittsburgh ranks No. 8 in sacks (14.0). Look for the Steelers to blitz Rivers early and often to take advantage of a depleted offensive line.
*Facts of note:
Pittsburgh is 4-1 straight up in its last five road games
Pittsburgh is 6-3 straight up in its last nine games
My season record against the spread: 2-0-2
Steelers +3.5 (-110) ($10.00 wins $9.09)
Chargers -3.5 (-110) ($10.00 wins 9.09)
The Steelers have been one of the most reliable teams to bet through four weeks of the season, either covering or pushing in all of their games. In my eyes, this game is a pick em, so there's a lot of value in taking the Steelers and the points here.
The Chargers are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven home games, and 1-4 against the spread in their last five games.
46 (-110) ($10.00 wins $9.09)
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley will open up the offense now that Vick has had a full week of preparation under his belt. Pittsburgh will yet again be without Roethlisberger, but should be able to score points against a Chargers defense that's allowing 27.5 PPG. Both offenses are averaging 24.0 PPG.
Weather won't be an issue, as the game time forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies with a temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit.
Total sacks by both teams over 5.5 -120 ($10.00 wins $8.33)
Le'Veon Bell over 92.5 rushing yards -115 ($10.00 wins $8.70)
The Long Shot
Darius Heyward-Bey to score a TD and Steelers win game +2200 ($10.00 wins $220.00)
Steelers 28, Chargers 24