The Steelers Week eleven primetime game, against the Los Angeles Chargers, will probably have the biggest playoff implications for both teams.
The Pittsburgh Steelers got very lucky last year with their strength of schedule (SOS), ranking towards the bottom of the league. That got them off to a very nice 11-0 start to the season before they hit a wall and lost four out of their last five games. Unfortunately, the 2021 season will not be as forgiving. The Steelers have been given a schedule with an opponent winning percentage of a .574 from the 2020 season, ranking first in strength of schedule going into the 2021 season.
The Steelers away game against the Chargers will be a big deciding game in how both teams will fare in the postseason. The Chargers (AFC West), like the Steelers (AFC North), are not favored to win their division and they will more than likely be fighting for a bottom three seed in the AFC conference. The winner of this game will have a greater chance to land the highest available seed, the five seed.
The Chargers are at the helm at what seems to be young phenomenal talent in Justin Herbert. He turned many heads his rookie season, especially after going toe-to-toe with former Super Bowl champion and MVP, Patrick Mahomes.
He finished his rookie season with 31 touchdowns (rookie record), 10 interceptions, and 4,336 yards (38 yards shy of the rookie record). He almost surely would have broken the rookie passing record, set by Andrew Luck in 2012, if he would have played in one more game. He played in 15 games his rookie season whereas Andrew Luck played in all 16.
The Chargers have a middle-of-the-pack defense that is projected to potentially finish as the 13th best defense in the NFL for the 2021 season. The Steelers are projected to drop in defensive ranking after losing linebacker Bud Dupree (free agency) and cornerback Steven Nelson (released) to the 6th best defense. This will make for a good matchup as both teams have a decent amount of firepower on offense.
This week eleven matchup is set up to be one of the best games of the year, at least for the Steelers. Being towards the backend of the season, this game will have lots of playoff implications behind it, assuming both teams play up to par leading up to it. At the end of the day, it will come down to which defense steps up and makes the bigger play.