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NFL Playoffs Chargers at Steelers

January 11, 2009

NFL Divisional Playoffs - San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday 4:45 PM ET)

The Steelers are a 6-point favorite with a game total of 37.5 at for this AFC playoffs matchup.

Ben Roethlisberger of the SteelersQuarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers have a tough foe on their hands as they host the San Diego Chargers as six-point favorites on Sunday.

These teams played a competitive 11-10 affair in November, a game known for its controversial finish that affected millions of bettors when a last second Pittsburgh return TD by Troy Polamalu was waved off by officials.

In any case, Pittsburgh has played well versus San Diego, 8-3 SU & ATS in the last 11 meetings. However, coach Norv Turner's teams are 6-0 ATS in the playoffs after the upset of Indy, and with San Diego, his record is 5-2 SU & 6-1 ATS in revenge spots.

The Chargers boast the NFL's top passing game at 7.9 yards per attempt. Pittsburgh is number one defensively in that stat, 4.7 PYA allowed.

For the second straight year, the Colts' season ended against the Chargers, after they eked out a 23-17 overtime victory at Qualcomm Stadium in the Wild-Card round last Saturday.

Backup running back Darren Sproles, subbing for the injured LaDainian Tomlinson, totaled 328 yards, including 105 on the ground, and the game-winning 22-yard touchdown run in overtime.

The Chargers, who needed to win four straight games just to make the postseason, snapped the Colts' nine-game run and advanced to the AFC Divisional round for the third straight year.

Second-seed Pittsburgh awaits and already owns that 11-10 win over the Chargers at Heinz Field in Week 11.

Though the Steelers failed to score a touchdown, their 11 points came on three field goals and a safety, they did pile up 410 total yards, including 115 on the ground from Willie Parker.

The secondary, a weak link for San Diego, was ranked 31st against the pass (247.4 yards per game). Ben Roethlisberger completed 31 of 41 throws for 308 yards the first time around, but the Chargers dropped him four times.

Pittsburgh didn't see much of Sproles, he had just one carry and one kick return,but the special teams dynamo can expect another major dose of carries after 22 against Indianapolis.

Philip Rivers has enjoyed a career season without a top-notch running game, but lacking that dimension in the first trip to Pittsburgh, he was held without a touchdown and threw two picks.

He needs the 5-6, 181-pound Sproles to slither through a Steelers run defense that's allowed just 80.2 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

The Chargers are winless in Pittsburgh during the regular season (0-13) but perfect in the playoffs (2-0). They need a perfect combination of ball control and defense to have any chance of upsetting the Steelers.

Limiting Manning to one touchdown looks great on paper, but he still topped 300 yards and moved the ball with no help from the ground game.

Pick: Pittsburgh -6 (-110)

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