By Jeremy Hritz
Hritz 2012 Prediction Record: 8-4
Chargers at Steelers Rankings Breakdown
Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers won, what to this point, was their biggest game of the season in Baltimore. Considering that the Steelers pulled off the victory against the Ravens without several starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, it is hard to resist forecasting just how good this team can be if they get healthy.
Thankfully, the team started to show signs of improvement in terms of their health as Troy Polamalu returned to the field. Unfortunately, as one player returned, another went on the shelf, as Ike Taylor injured his ankle.
The team also held true to the Tomlinism of “next man up,” and “the standard is the standard,” as Kelvin Beachum stepped in for Mike Adams and performed well, limiting the damage inflicted by Paul Kruger.
And lastly, it would be unfair not to recognize the resilient play of Charlie Batch, who recovered from his abysmal performance against the Browns, and led the Steelers to points on two crucial drives in the fourth quarter.
Looking at the Ravens game and the 2012 Steelers season holistically, this team has flashed the potential of being a championship caliber team. The only component missing is stability and consistency which has been disrupted by the frequency of injuries and the constant shuffling of the starting line up. Heading into today’s game, the Steelers get their sheriff back in Roethlisberger and possibly, left guard Willie Colon, which are two more steps to complete health. If the Steelers can avoid more injuries and continue to get healthy, their chances are as good as any other team to reach the Super Bowl.
Today’s game against the San Diego Chargers is a unique one, and when the schedule was released, it was one that many fans anticipated as it pitted two quarterbacks of a famed draft class against one another. Yet the 2012 season for the Chargers has not been a good one, as Philip Rivers has thrown 15 interceptions and has failed to lead his team to many victories. As it currently stands, the Chargers are 4-8, and are heading towards firing their head coach and general manager. Earlier this week, Kevin Acee reported that according to sources close the situation, Norv Turner and A.J. Smith would be fired at the end of the season. While this is not breaking news, the attention that this report received could damage an already poor team morale.
While this game is not a guaranteed victory for the Steelers, the Chargers are beat up on the offensive line in addition to being beat up mentally. This adds up to a vulnerable team that the Steelers should be able to exploit today in Pittsburgh. However, what we have seen from the Steelers this year is that against the teams they are supposed to beat, they underperform and find themselves in a dogfight, and the Chargers this year have been competitive in nearly every game. Yet this should be the game where the pieces of the puzzle begin to merge and the Steelers begin their stride towards the playoffs. Even though Roethlisberger will be a bit rusty, this will be a game dominated by the defense, a unit that has been the driving force of the team.
This game will be a barometer to see if the Steelers can put it on mediocre teams, as they should. While not a blow out, a stifling Steelers defense will lead the team to an 8-5 record.
Steelers 28 Chargers 10