This potential playoff preview has been flexed to the prime time Sunday night slot, and both teams are playing well despite the Steelers 4-turnover performance last week in defeat at Denver which snapped the Steelers six game winning streak. Pittsburgh leads the AFC North while Los Angeles still has AFC West-leading Kansas City in sight. This matchup also features two top quarterbacks from the famed 2004 draft class, and Ben Roethlisberger and Phillip Rivers are likely to put on an aerial show in NFL Week 13 Sunday Night betting with only a modest chance of rain able to keep the footballs from flying .
Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)
Sunday Dec. 2nd – Heinz Field – 8:20pm ET
NFL Week 13 Sunday Night Spread: Pittsburgh -3 (-120) Total 51.5
This key AFC contest features a pair of top-10 defenses in total yards against and yards per play. It also features a pair of quality quarterbacks that know how to audible against various defensive schemes, and make the proper reads. But both quarterbacks will face pass defenses that rank top-7 in the league allowing 223.3 (PIT) and 227.3 (LAC) passing yards per game.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is currently the second most productive passer in the league with 3,664 passing yards completing 66.1% of his passes at 7.76 yards per pass and 24 touchdowns. But Big Ben has tossed 12 interceptions which is more than any other quarterback except Jets rookie Sam Darnold. Phillip Rivers is having an excellent season passing for 3,119 yards and 69.5% completions. But Rivers 9.09 yards per pass is elite and top-3 in the league. Rivers has a 26/6 TD-to-INT ratio, and last week he set an NFL record by completing 25 straight passes in the Chargers 45-10 route of the Cardinals. His production has led the Chargers offense to 402.0 yards per game and top-3 ranking of 6.8 yards per play.
Working against Rivers and the Chargers offense on NFL Week 13 Sunday Night this week is the absence of RB Melvin Gordon, who suffered an MCL sprain in last week’s win over Arizona. He’s out against the Steelers and week-to-week going forward. Rivers will have to be his best again, but on the road against a Steelers pass defense that ranks top-4 allowing 6.2 yards per pass including 5.2 over their last three games will be a tough challenge.
The Steelers are 33-22-2 ATS in December with Big Ben under center, and this looks like a big bounce back victory for Pittsburgh as they push for a top-2 playoff seed in the AFC. Despite a -7 turnover margin this season, the Steelers are still winning games with an elite offense averaging 420.1 yards per game. Pittsburgh also has the superior special teams overall in this match-up. With blowout wins in their last three home games over Carolina, Cleveland and Atlanta while scoring 52, 33 and 41 points, I’ll stick with the Steelers.
NFL Week 13 Sunday Night Free Pick – Pittsburgh Steelers -3
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.