The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Oakland Raiders in a pivotal AFC game. The Steelers have lost two in a row while the Raiders are coming off of an impressive win over the Jets.
What: Oakland Raiders (4-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Sunday November 8th, 2015 1pm Eastern
Line: Steelers -4.5
TV: CBS Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts and Evan Washburn on the sidelines.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Rabble TV: SCB will be calling the game live and interacting with you the fans. Click the link to listen.
Key Injuries: As of Saturday AM… PIT Will Allen (Ankle) Probable… Matt Spaeth (Knee) Out. OAK Khalil Mack (Hamstring) Limited Participant
What You Need to Know: The Steelers’ William Gay played in his 136th straight game which is the best among all active cornerbacks… The Steelers are just 2-2 this season at Heinz Field… Ben Roethlisberger ranks 15th in career touchdown passes in NFL history with 255… Rookie Bud Dupree leads the Steelers with four sacks.
AFC North: Baltimore (2-6) BYE, THURS: Cleveland (2-7) 10 at Cincinnati (8-0) 31
What’s at Stake: The Raiders have already defeated the New York Jets which is a team competing with both them and the Steelers for a Wild-Card spot. A Steelers’ loss would drop them to 1-5 in the AFC which is the second tie-breaker after head-to-head. While not a death blow, a loss wold be devastating to their playoff chances.
All-Time Series: Raiders lead 12-9. Teams have split 10 games played in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have never lost to the Raiders in the month of November (3-0).
Series Highs Passing: PIT Ben Roethlisberger 384 yards 2012, OAK Rich Gannon 403 yards 2002 Receiving: PIT Santonio Holmes 149 yards 2009, OAK Mervyn Fernandez 130 yards 1990 Rushing: PIT Jerome Bettis 128 yards 2000, OAK Darren McFadden 113 yards 2012
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Win
The Steelers Shall Pass: The Raiders feature the second best run defense in the NFL and although DeAngelo Williams is a solid back, he isn’t Le’Veon Bell. Therefore, the Steelers need to come out gunning. The Raiders are 25th in the league in pass defense and Ben Roethlisberger needs to exploit that. Oakland is surrendering an average of over 300 yards passing per game so that should get the Steelers’ passing attack going.
Defending the “Coop”: For the second straight week the Steelers face a top notch wide receiver. Last week was A.J. Green and this week is rookie Amari Cooper who ranks among the top 20 receivers in the NFL. The Raiders rank near the bottom in rushing so that means they will look to throw the ball assuming Keith Butler looks to take away the run as he usually does. The question is whether Derek Carr will take what the Steelers give him in terms of those short throws to the outside. Cooper’s speed will be tough to handle but if the Steelers can take him away that goes a long ways towards a win.
Coaches Under the Microscope Need to Shine: Todd Haley may not have Matt Spaeth this week which in my opinion is a good thing. That will probably eliminate many of these multiple tight end sets that result in very little success. Do what works Todd. Mike Tomlin justified his clock management last week by saying he wanted a timeout left for the final drive. I get what he’s saying but one thing you can’t get back in football is time. Tomlin has to show improvement in this area. Another clock management SNAFU will result in even more screams from the fan base.
Final Prediction: Despite the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is historically even worse in his second game back from injury than his first, I think he makes enough plays. Steelers 27 Raiders 20