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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Chargers Point Spread - Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (2-3 SU, 1-3-1 ATS)
Week 6 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, October 13, 2019 at 8:20PM EST
Where: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: PIT +6.5/LAC -6.5
Over/Under Total: 41

The Pittsburgh Steelers come to Carson for a Sunday Night Football matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers in week six. The Steelers fell to 1-4 on Sunday with a 36-23 overtime loss to their division rival Baltimore Ravens. On the hunt for a big win, they fell short and we'll see how high their morale is come Sunday Night against a Chargers' squad looking to make some things happen. On Sunday, the Bolts fell to the previously-winless Broncos, 20-13, falling to a disappointing 2-3 on the season. The Chargers need to get going, as the prospects of falling to 2-4 are daunting. Who can cover the spread on SNF?

This season has been a bitter pill to swallow for the Steelers, already seemingly out of it heading into week 6. Between the player departures, key injuries, and untimely bad play, it's been far too much to overcome. Now after Mason Rudolph was knocked out in the last game, they are left with Devlin Hodges, who actually wasn't so bad in directing a pair of scoring drives to keep the Steelers in the game. Who knows? Maybe he's a diamond in the rough. But when you go from Ben Roethlisberger to Rudolph and then to an undrafted rookie out of Samford, it's quite a falloff. Where do they go from here?

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Without Rudolph, the prospects of playing with a third-string quarterback is daunting for this Pittsburgh offense. Even with Big Ben behind center, there were issues, as this offense is in fact depreciated in terms of personnel from where it was not so long ago. They have James Conner at running back, JuJu Smith-Schuster at wide receiver, a pretty good tight end in Vance McDonald, and a lot of roster-filler. Jaylen Samuels is a useful piece and rookie Diontae Johnson might develop into something, but it's not the cast of various difference-makers we once saw. Smith-Schuster had a good game on Sunday other than a fumble and Conner ran for a TD, but goodness-gracious, when you get three interceptions and hold Lamar Jackson to 161 yards and their lead back Mark Ingram to 44 yards on 19 carries, you gotta win that game.

There were signs of life on the Pittsburgh defense last week and if that continues, it could go a long way toward salvaging something out of what is shaping up into a nightmare season. They weren't very clutch late, but for most of the game, they kept Baltimore in check both aerially and on the ground. They got after the quarterback and on Sunday, Vince Williams, TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, Cameron Heyward, and Jason Hargrave all got sacks and getting those guys going will be key. Rookie Devin Bush had an interception and is showing good signs of adding a playmaking element at linebacker. Adding safety Minkah Fitzpatrick a few games ago is starting to pay off and the secondary was pretty good on Sunday, with Mike Hilton and San Diego State alum Kameron Kelly also getting picks last week. We'll see what they can come up with on the road this week

A lot is wrong with the Chargers. Personnel issues certainly don't help and they're missing key guys in almost all areas. Melvin Gordon is going to need some time to get warmed up. Not having Derwin James in the secondary hurts. But missing several other key DBs makes it really dicey back there. Key piece Melvin Ingram (day-to-day) is missing time with a hamstring and even the offensive line is compromised. All these missing pieces are starting to disrupt the whole operation. On top of that, you have important players, even Philip Rivers, not really delivering their top form yet this season. Rivers had two picks and no TDs on Sunday and has been particularly off-key late in games. As if all that weren't enough, you then have these little typical Chargers issues popping up during games—untimely penalties and turnovers, bad placekicking, inexplicable defensive collapses, drops, special teams snafus, and strange calls coming in from the sidelines. What else doesn't help is how they're in a supposed home-game with the crowd in a sea of orange when playing Denver, forcing the Chargers to go to a silent count in key parts of the game.

After a game where the Chargers scored 13 points, seven of which came on a punt return for a TD by Desmond King, it's hard to say much good about the Bolts' offense. But I expect Rivers to be sharper, especially as the urgency ramps up starting now. Melvin Gordon wasn't very productive on Sunday and made a key mistake or two, but having him will be an asset. They are missing pieces too numerous to name and they're going to have to cut out mistakes, especially things like turning the ball over on the goal-line, something that's happened four times already this season. Even their vaunted ball-catching corps is banged-up and not really shining. Mike Williams had a nice game and Austin Ekeler is a massive aerial presence, but even with Ekeler having 15 receptions, it sort of paints the picture of an off-rhythm receiving crew. They don't have a viable tight end to get the ball to for the first time in years and as usual, the big guys up front are not a group that is in the upper-half of the league.

Enough pieces are missing on the Chargers' defense to have made them a ho-hum unit. They're certainly not bad and on Sunday, they made plays with Kyzir White getting a pick and Joey Bosa getting a sack. But the difference-making unit that makes plays left in right is not present through five games. The points allowed isn't alarming perhaps, giving up 20 to Denver last week and 10 to the Dolphins the previous week. But they're more-exploitable and less-impactful than they were this time last season. This would be a good spot for them to shine.

To keep playing the urgency-card with a team can be a slippery slope right to the poorhouse. One would think that avoiding a 2-4 start would rev this Chargers team up. But wouldn't that have been the case last week, facing a winless team at home with a chance to go above .500? Willpower only goes so far in this league. So when the recipe for prior success is disrupted, it's not just a matter of trying harder. And the Steelers haven't been winning, but have shown some pluck in covering the spread the last three weeks. Be that as it may, I think one more whirl on the Bolts can be justified. I think they're due to perform well and I think they hold off a depleted Steelers team and score the win and cover.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Los Angeles Chargers minus 6.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on games at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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