(WCMH) — It’s NFL Week 11 and this Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in primetime on “Sunday Night Football.”
The two teams have similar records with five wins each, but the Chargers are coming off a 27-20 Week 10 loss to the Vikings while the Steelers experienced a 16-16 tie against the Lions. This matchup will be essential for each of them to reclaim their momentum.
Last week, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is vaccinated, had to sit out the game due to being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Pittsburgh’s backup quarterback, Mason Rudolph, was then tapped to start against Detroit. Although Rudolph did not disappoint on the field, completing 30 of 50 passes for 242 yards and earning a touchdown, his performance came short of solidifying a win for the team.
Along with Roethlisberger, who will have to test negative to play this week, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is also a COVID question mark for the game against the Chargers. Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
Adding to the team’s COVID woes are some traditional injuries involving two of their star players. Wide receiver Chase Claypool is still on the mend from an injured toe and T.J. Watt’s hip/knee injury he suffered against the Lions could prevent him from playing.
On the Chargers side, QB Justin Herbert had a meteoric rise last season; but this season, although his statistics might not be on the same pace as his rookie year, he is still a standout quarterback across the league. His 2021 numbers put him tied for fifth with 19 touchdowns and tied for sixth in total yards overall in the NFL.
Like the Steelers, the Chargers are not immune to COVID complications as this week defensive end Joey Bosa and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery were placed on the COVID-19/reserve list. Bosa, a former Ohio State Buckeye, was placed on the list as a close contact trace, so he has not tested positive. He is, however, unvaccinated and must quarantine for five days, per the NFL’s COVID protocols. If he continues to test negative and remains symptom-free he may return to the team as early as Saturday and then play Sunday night.
As the regular season has passed its halfway point, the playoff race is increasing the tension on the teams. In the AFC North, the Steelers are now in second place behind the Ravens. In the AFC West, the Chargers are also in second place behind the Chiefs. Overall in the AFC standings, the Steelers and Chargers come in fifth and seventh respectively. These rankings only add to the drama of what is riding on Sunday night’s game for both teams.
Watch “Sunday Night Football” starting at 7 p.m. on NBC4 or stream it live at NBCSports.com/Live.