First Look: Chargers-Steelers

January, 4, 2009
1/04/09
8:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

No. 4 seed San Diego Chargers (9-8) at No. 2 seed Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4), Sunday, 4:45 p.m. ET

MIAMI -- Now that we know the bracket for the next round of the NFL playoffs, let's take an early peek at the games in the AFC North.

Here are three things to monitor this week for the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) as they prepare for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers (9-8):

1. What is the status of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?

Roethlisberger did not practice last week after suffering a concussion in the regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 28. All indications are that he will be ready to return Sunday against the Chargers, but it would be interesting to see at what point he returns to the field. Keep in mind, Roethlisberger struggled midseason after missing significant practice time with a shoulder injury, and that surely is on the mind of the coaching staff as the team prepares for a one-and-done scenario against the Chargers.

2. Who gets the nod in a rematch?

This is an age-old question that will surely be asked at least a dozen times this week. Pittsburgh won the first meeting in Heinz Field, 11-10. So does that provide more motivation for San Diego to avenge the loss or does Pittsburgh have the Chargers' number? It's usually different for each team and each game. But San Diego enters this game as arguably the hottest team in the NFL, winning five straight to get to the divisional round.

3. Chargers O vs. Steelers D

This matchup will likely determine the outcome of the game. The Chargers finished the year second in scoring and have notched 30 points or more seven times this season. Pittsburgh has the NFL's top-rated defense and has held opponents to 10 points or less eight times. Something has to give when these two teams clash for the second time this season.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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