MNF Three Key Matchups: Pittsburgh v. San Diego

Monday night football for week 5 has the Pittsburgh Steelers v. San Diego Chargers slated and it should be an interesting matchup. The Steelers are coming into the game having played last Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens and dealing with a tough OT loss. The Chargers are coming off a win last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Both teams are looking to go above .500 and be 3-2 heading into week 6. I am going to look at the key match ups for each team that will lead them to victory.

Key Matchup #1: Antonio Gate v. Steeler's LB's

Antionio Gates is gearing up for his first game back since being suspended four games for the NFL's substance abuse policy. He will be back and expect Phillip Rivers to be looking for him, in six career games against Pittsburgh Gates has totaled 27 receptions, 345 yards, and four touchdowns. 

The linebackers for Pittsburgh will have a tall task keeping him in check specifically Lawrence Timmons and Sean Spence. These two will have their hands full with Gates, Green, and Danny Woodhead. If they are are able to shut down Gates the rest of the defense should be able to focus on the other big playmakers and control the Chargers offense.

Key Matchup #2: Michael Vick v. Chargers Secondary

If you saw Vick's game against the Ravens last week you know he did a serviceable job going 24/32 with 162 yards and a TD. He did well if you look at completions, but when the yardage gets brought up you can see that Vick did nothing that stretched the field. Everything was a dunk and run type pass, which won't work and hurt's the run game since the secondary knows they can play press coverage and not have to worry about any over the top type passes. 

The Charges secondary is ranked 10th in the league for pass defense, which would be good except the players that make up that tough pass D are all potentially out for the game. Brandon Flowers has a concussion and is doubtful for the game while second year corner Jason Verrett is dealing with a foot injury. If those two corners are out look for the Chargers D to have a long night, but if they play Antonio Brown and Mike Vick will have to come up with a few big plays to walk away with the W.

Key Matchup #3: Pittsburgh v. San Diego Special Teams

The kicking game for Pittsburgh is in disarray and if you watched Josh Scobee last week you know what I mean. He missed two field goals and it got so bad that Pittsburgh went for it on 4th down a few times towards the end instead of even trying a FG. Scobee was cut shortly afterwards and now the Steelers will look to Chris Boswell out of Rice University to try and stabilize their kicking woes. If he can't the Steeler's will have to look for their 5th kicker since the start of Pre-Season to step up.

On the other side of the ball a familiar face will be facing the Steelers kickoff defense with Jacoby Jones formally of the Baltimore Ravens looking to take a kickoff back for a TD. You may remember the last time Jones almost scored a kickoff TD against Pittsburgh this happened:

If Jones can avoid Mike Tomlin this time maybe he takes one back for the Chargers and gives them that spark they need to be a contender for the division or wild card.

These three key match ups will be something to keep an eye on, but thats just my stance. Let me know what you think the keys to the game are tonight in the comments below.