NFL Odds, Predictions, Picks For Steelers vs. Chargers: 2 Ways Our Experts Are Betting Sunday Night Football

NFL Odds, Predictions, Picks For Steelers vs. Chargers: 2 Ways Our Experts Are Betting Sunday Night Football article feature image

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images.Pictured: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Najee Harris

  • Our experts are laying the points with the Pittsburgh for the Week 11 edition of Sunday Night Football — find out why below.
  • Even with Big Ben back under center, there's plenty of value in this Najee Harris prop.

Steelers vs. Chargers Odds & Picks

Steelers +6
Steelers +6
Najee Harris Over 20.5 Rushing Attempts

Steelers +6

Stuckey: This is a tough game to handicap with all of the uncertainty and potential missing pieces for both teams — more so the Steelers than the Chargers.

However, that's built into the line. There's no reason to go crazy on this game with so much uncertainty, but I did play some Steelers +6 with the assumption that Mason Rudolph will get the start. Now it is all but certain Ben Roethlisberger will start and I like Pittsburgh even more.

For what it's worth, Roethlisberger came off the COVID-19 list on a Saturday last year before a game against the Bengals and had no issues. He threw for over 300 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 36-10 rout.

This is also a classic Mike Tomlin spot. He thrives as an underdog, especially on the road against winning teams. He's one of the best motivators in the NFL and is at his best when he can use an "us against the world" mentality. I expect him to have the Steelers ready to roll after an embarrassing tie against the winless Lions last week.

Just take a look at some of these ATS stats:

  • 41-20-2 (67.2%) as an underdog (most profitable of 137 coaches in our Action Labs database)
  • As an underdog from Week 3 on: 37-15-2 ATS (71.2%)
  • Road underdog: 29-17 (63%)
  • Road underdog against winning team: 19-7 ATS (73.1%)

Another key factor is that the Steelers should have an edge in the special teams department. L.A. has one of the worst special teams units in the league. The Chargers also don't have much of a home-field advantage. We should see plenty of Steelers fans in the crowd for this one.

The defensive injuries are very concerning for Pittsburgh, but I expect everyone else to step up in this particular spot. And something just seems a bit off with this Chargers offense, despite all of the talent.

Pittsburgh should also have success running the ball with Harris against this very poor run defense. That's a luxury they don't enjoy most weeks.

All the Chargers do is play close games. I expect another one on Sunday night and will back Tomlin as I normally do in this particular spot. With Roethlisberger starting, I’d play this to Steelers +4.5. You can read my full betting preview for this matchup here.

Steelers +6

Brandon Anderson: This line never made any sense to me.

The Steelers were my Week 11 Lookahead choice on last Friday’s podcast at +3.5. This is effectively a home game for Pittsburgh the way their fans travel and how things usually shape up at SoFi Stadium, and we know how great the Steelers always are as an underdog.

Then Ben Roethlisberger was a late COVID scratch last week and Pittsburgh went to Mason Rudolph and this line ballooned to +6, and then T.J. Watt was hurt while Minkah Fitzpatrick entered protocols. I still liked Pittsburgh, and I liked Mason Rudolph even better because his mobility would open up the run game and get Najee Harris downhill quickly against the worst run defense in the NFL.

Now Rudolph is out, with Big Ben back in the lineup … and still I love the Steelers here. I did like Rudolph’s mobility, but I also liked that his presence would keep the line superficially high when it wasn’t much of a downgrade. But the line stayed steady, likely because of the key injuries to Pittsburgh’s defense and the return of Joey Bosa for LA. And that means I still like the Steelers.

And really, it’s because I just don’t love the Chargers. We anointed this team early, but the Chargers are much more average than good. The offense has struggled mightily on early downs all season, with poor play calling holding them back, and I trust the tough Steelers D to keep Pittsburgh in the game and keep it close. I still like Harris to run on the bad Chargers run defense, and as Stuckey said, Mike Tomlin has always smashed as an underdog and this is a great spot for him.

This feels like a first-round playoff atmosphere between two pretty even teams, and I just can’t give a six-point edge to the Chargers. I like the moneyline a little less here with all the injury news on defense, but I’m still playing Steelers +6 on Sunday night.

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Najee Harris Over 20.5 Rushing Attempts

Michael Arinze: If you want to stop the Chargers, a commitment to the running game will go a long way. That's because the Chargers are dead last against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. It certainly would make sense for the Steelers to take advantage of this tactic — especially with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger making his return after missing Week 10 due to COVID-19.

We've seen quarterbacks return from a bout with the virus this season only to look rather sluggish in their first game back. As a result, a heavy dose of Najee Harris running the ball could be just what this Steelers team needs in this matchup.

It took a little while for Pittsburgh's coaching staff to trust the Alabama rookie as Harris averaged just 13.75 rushing attempts in his first four games. However, he's now averaging 24.2 rushing attempts over his past five games.

For Harris to continue to get touches, Pittsburgh's defense will need to keep the game close. I think it'll have a chance to do so given its five-game unbeaten streak in addition to not allowing more than 27 points in any contest this season.

BetMGM lists Harris's rushing attempts prop at 20.5, and since I'm not interested in either side of the total for this game, I've decided to risk a half unit on him going over his prop for a bit of a sweat. However, I wouldn't play this number any higher than 21.5.

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