NFL Free Pick: SD/PIT

In the final game of the Divisional Round playoffs this weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers host the San Diego Chargers in a repeat matchup from the regular season.

Will we give our free pick nod to Troy Polomalu and the great Steeler defense or Philip Rivers and the high-powered Charger offense?

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Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Steelers -6 point spread favorite. The over/under for this game has been set at 38 total points.

Top Trend: San Diego is 4-1 against the spread in its last five games, while the under has hit four of the Chargers’ last six games when playing Pittsburgh.

Key Stat: The Steelers have limited opponents to just 13.9 points per game while holding opponents to only 80.3 rushing yards per game. The Chargers have averaged 27.4 points per game and 241.1 passing yards per game.

Game Outlook: The Chargers got a controversial cover earlier this year in Pittsburgh when the two teams played to the first ever 11-10 final in NFL history. The Steelers should have covered, but a blown call in the final seconds of the game resulted in a Charger cover. Regardless, we think San Diego won’t need a controversial finish to cover this time. LaDainian Tomlinson won’t play, but that’s not a huge factor like some may think. LT has been hobbled all season and has had a rare down year, so not having him in the backfield isn’t a big blow – especially considering Darren Sproles is his backup. Sproles probably won’t rush for over 100 yards like he did last week against the Colts, but he’s versatile and excellent as a pass catcher. The key in this game is San Diego’s defense. The Chargers have played remarkably better since Ron Rivera took over for Ted Cottrell at defensive coordinator in midseason. The Steelers’ offensive line is being together by duct tape right now and Ben Roethlisberger has had issues turning the ball over. For as well as Pittsburgh’s defense has played this season, the Steelers haven’t blown a lot of teams out and it’s been because of Big Ben’s erratic play. We think the Steelers will advance with a win, but the Chargers keep this one close and cover the 6-point spread. Take the under, too, in the bad conditions. For the rest of our NFL Divisional Round Free Pick, see below.

Our Free NFL Pick for the Divisional Round Playoff matchup between the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers game is

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS +6

TheSpread.com Projected Final Score

Pittsburgh Steelers 20

San Diego Chargers 16

We also predict that this game will GO UNDER THE TOTAL (38 Sportsbook.com) SET BY ODDSMAKERS

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Posted: 1/11/08 9:00AM ET

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