So the Steelers upset Baltimore, forced their way back into the playoff picture, get Big Ben back for this week and have a lackluster remaining schedule. So why is it that I’m still not 100% comfortable moving forward? Because the Steelers play the absolute worst possible team they could in this situation: The San Diego Chargers.
A trap team, or a team that on paper looks very beatable but pulls off the upset, is pretty generic. They are a team with talent and skill all over the field, the problem is that they are undisciplined, lack definitive leadership and find ways to beat themselves before anyone else can. If that doesn’t fit the Chargers to a t I don’t kno what else does. The Chargers are customarily a second half team under Norv Turner but they have refused to turn the corner this season and now seemed doomed for a regime change. Phillip Rivers’ past seasons seem like a fluke as he has changed his throwing motion and his stats and production have plummeted. The defense is soft and has never been great while Turner has been coach.
So then why should the Steelers be on alert? Ike Taylor’s injury is not going to be a deathblow to the team but saying that it will have no effect is just wrong. The Steelers lacked cornerback depth at the begininning of the season and this means Ryan Mundy and Will Allen will now be nickel backs unless Troy Polamlau is reinjured. Regardless, the Chargers, unlike the Ravens, now have film on the young DB and if they chose to attack him like Baltimore tried, they will be better equipped to do so.
Secondly, Ben’s return may relax the offense far more than it should. If anything, the offense will need to work harder with Ben back. If all reports are true, Ben has been throwing but no where near as much as he would be if he was healthy. So we’re talking about a rusty Roethlisberger coming back into a system built around his newfound precision and quick decision making. The offensive line performed admirable last week and here’s praying for a repeat performance.
Finally, aside from losing to the Falcons who may very well be the best team in the NFL this year, the Chargers have seen all of their games decided in close fashion. Their largest margin of defeat was 10 points and just twice have their 9 loses ben decided by more than a single score. This team loses by giving other teams turnovers and mistakes. The Steelers haven’t been the best at exploiting teams when they do this
Trap games slip up average teams or even better than average teams. Great teams don’t fall in a trap game. This is the week I think we finally get a clearer picture of who the Steelers really are and where they are going. I fully expect the Steelers to pull off the victory over San Diego but it’s going to be close. Very very close.