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06 January 2009

Steelers Versus Chargers

Sunday will be the first game of the Divisional Playoffs for the Steelers. The Steelers are up for a great rematch against the San Diego Chargers. San Diego is coming off a five game winning streak as well as a big overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts were coming into San Diego with a red hot streak of nine games and a regular season record of 12-4. The Chargers finished off their season with an 8-8 record, benefiting from the collapse of the Denver Broncos.
During the regular season, the Steelers beat up on the Chargers 11-10, but the game wasn't that close. Willie Parker ran for 115 yards, Ben Roethlisberger thew for 308 yards with Hines Ward receiving 124 of those yards. The Steelers ended up with 410 total yards and the Chargers with 213. Phillip Rivers threw for only 159 yards and two interceptions while LaDanian Tomlinson ran for 57 yards. It was another defensive dabacle by the Steelers defense. The score only dictates the Steelers inability in the red zone. Mark my words, the Steelers won't let that happen again.
The Chargers come in with a few key injuries and a few surprises. The big injury is to Tomlinson. He has an injured groin, but to what extent, we don't know. He barely played against the Colts. Instead, he was replaced with Darren Sproles. He is a 5'6" wonder in the backfield. Sproles finished off the Colts with 328 all purpose yards. I feel that Sproles is the key to the Chargers offense now. You contain him, you contain the team.
The Steelers finished the season at #1 in Total Defense, #1 in Passing Defense, #2 in Rushing Defense, and #1 in Scoring Defense. With newly acknowledged Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison on board achieving 16 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 1 interceptions, and 101 tackles, we should set our sights high this playoff season. They also allowed under 300 yards for 15 of 16 games this season, the only game that they allowed more was week 16 against Tennessee, who only achieved 323 yards. Troy Polamalu is also having a career year with 7 interceptions.
Now, I am not saying to overlook the Chargers because when we did beat them, it was in week 11, that loss dropped them to 4-6. They would go on to lose two more games before going on their current streak. They seemed to have found their groove. You can look at the Steelers in the same respect. They lost to the current #1 seed in the Tennessee Titans in week 16 which was more of a wakeup call than anything for the Steelers. The next week, they beat up on Cleveland pretty bad to finish the season 12-4. The Steelers also achieved this record while working with the hardest schedule in terms of previous season's winning percentage in 20 years or so. I consider that incredible.
Pittsburgh has faced almost every team that remains in the playoffs with the exception of Arizona and Carolina in the NFC. I like our odds against any team we face with the defense that we currently have in place. The Steelers also know that their defense can be legendary, but only with a Superbowl win.
They have their sights set right, just have to achieve the incredible.
Steelers 20 - Chargers 10
Here We Go Steelers!


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