The Oakland Raiders upcoming matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers willl start a five-game stretch in which every opponent is currently 0.500 or below. Pittsburgh along with three other teams within the said upcoming schedule: Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Houston Texans, are surprisingly having subpar seasons. That which is most astonishing is New York who is still without a win this season. Getting wins against these next few opponents is very much possible and Oakland must take advantage in order to, at the very least, build up the team’s confidence moving forward into the second half of the season. For now, let us take a look at the Steelers.
Though Pittsburgh is also currently 2-4, the team is riding on a two-game win streak including a victory against the New York Jets who just pulled off an upset over the New England Patriots. Steelers receiver Antonio Brown is slowly but surely becoming the No. 1 receiver he was expected to be since the team departed with Mike Wallace and running back Le’Veon Bell had an impressive outing in the team’s last game against the Baltimore Ravens during which he totaled 93 yards on 19 carries.
If the Raiders defense is to contain the Steelers improved offense, it begins with putting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. Despite getting the win against the Ravens, it was the first game of the season in which the quarterback did not get more than 200 passing yards. The Ravens defense sacked Roethlisberger three times during the game. Oakand’s sack leaders Lamarr Houston and Jason Hunter will have to emulate what the Ravens defense did to Roethlisberger and not allow him to ever get settled.
On the offensive side, establishing the running attack is crucial. Pittsburgh is currently ranked 18th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed with an average of 109.3 yards. Raiders running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings have had two weeks to heal up and they must be a factor in the team’s offense this week. If Oakland cannot run the ball, it could be a long day for Terrelle Pryor against a defense that is currently the fourth best in the NFL in passing yards allowed.
Also, the offensive line must keep Pryor upright. It struggled to do so against the Kansas City Chiefs giving up nine sacks. That must improve this week against a defense that also has a very good sack artist in linebacker LaMarr Woodley who has five sacks so far this season. As of now, it is unsure who among the team’s injured offensive lineman will be ready for Sunday. Oakland’s already battered offensive line took a shellacking against the Chiefs and lost Andre Gurode and Tony Pashos during the game. Stefen Wisniewski is still questionable after missing the last two games. Jared Veldheer and Menelik Watson have yet to play this season.
Despite the depleted roster, a win at home against Pittsburgh certainly isn’t out of the question. The team’s defense have done enough to keep games close. Its shortcomings have been on the offense however. It was reported that Pryor and offensive coordinator Greg Olson spent the bye week studying film together. We shall see if studying has done Pryor some good. We will also see if the bye week did come at the most opportune time for Oakland.