When the NFL chose this game for Sunday Night Football, I have a feeling they weren’t expecting a Philip Rivers vs. Devlin Hodges matchup, but here we are. Pittsburgh is down to Hodges after multiple injuries at the quarterback position. He will make his first career start against a desperate Chargers team that has underachieved as usual this season. Los Angeles is coming off an embarrassing home loss to the winless Broncos and they need to bounce back. It may not be the best game of the day, but we can still gamble which is all that matters. Below are my top prop bets for Sunday night.
Philip Rivers Over 1.5 Touchdowns (-129)
The Steelers will be without two defensive starters including cornerback Steven Nelson who didn’t make the trip to Los Angeles. Rivers has not had a great season, but he has thrown for two or more touchdowns in three of their five games. The entire offense struggled against Denver with only 246 yards of total offense and I expect a better effort tonight. Look for Rivers to play well against a depleted Steelers defense.
Los Angeles More First Downs (-181)
The Chargers have a talented defense that is only giving up 18.8 points per game. This is not an ideal situation for Devlin Hodges to make his first career start, and he will struggle to move the ball efficiently. Los Angeles will get the running game going with Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler which will open up the passing game for Rivers and his top receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
James Conner At Least 4 Receptions (-102)
James Conner has 19 catches on 20 targets and he will be a key player to help Devlin Hodges get comfortable early in the game. The Steelers will be short handed at receiver with James Washington out with a shoulder injury. Washington has not had a lot of production, but he does play a significant amount of snaps. The Chargers should double JuJu Smith-Schuster and take him out of the game which will leave Conner as a viable target out of the backfield. Conner should have a lot of opportunities in this game.
Keenan Allen At Least 7 Receptions (-140)
Over the first three games, Allen had 42 targets and 29 receptions. Over the past two games, he has only been targeted 11 times and has nine receptions. Allen is a very good receiver, and his lack of production over the past two games has been surprising. He should have a big game Sunday and Rivers will make it a point to feed him the ball. The Steelers have injuries in the secondary which should also benefit Allen and the Los Angeles passing game.