The Chargers hope the return of LaDainian Tomlinson sparks their inside run game, but the interior offensive line must get a better push if that's going to happen. It starts in the middle with Mruczkowski, who will wrestle with the 325-pound Hampton. Nobody expects San Diego's backup center to push around Pittsburgh's defensive anchor, but if Mruczkowski can generate any movement it will open up cutback lanes and make life much easier for Tomlinson.
When the Chargers Pass: Vincent Jackson vs. Ike Taylor
With the Steelers expected to blitz liberally, Jackson will get many one-on-one looks against Taylor. That's what happened when these teams met last postseason, when Jackson beat Taylor for a 41-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive. That play notwithstanding, Taylor (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) is one of the few cornerbacks with the size-speed combination to hang with Jackson, who ranks second in the league in receiving (317) and yards-per-catch (19.8).
When the Steelers Run: Stephen Cooper vs. Rashard Mendenhall
LB Stephen Cooper
When the Steelers Pass: Larry English vs. Max Starks
San Diego's first-round pick has yet to record his first sack, but he's making more of an impact with each passing week. He will get plenty of chances to rush the passer on Sunday against a Steelers team that averages more than 36 pass attempts per game. With Shawne Merriman (groin) expected to be limited or unavailable, English must win his share of battles against Starks, who has allowed 2.5 sacks already this season.
Just for Kicks
In what figures to be a close game, every point is pivotal. That means K Nate Kaeding can't afford any misses like the 41-yarder he pushed wide right last week. Heinz Field has a reputation for making good kickers look bad -- Kaeding missed a 42-yarder there last season. Kaeding has connected on 8-of-9 attempts this season, although seven of those makes have come from between 20 and 29 yards.
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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.