Week 16 finds the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Las Vegas Raiders in primetime on Christmas Eve. The 50th anniversary celebration of the “Immaculate Reception” has been tempered by the shocking loss of Franco Harris. How will the teams respond? Here’s everything you need to know for the game.
What: Las Vegas Raiders 6-8 at Pittsburgh Steelers 6-8
Where: Acrisure Stadium Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When: 8pm December 24th 2022
Weather: Frigid!! Cloudy and 11 degrees at kickoff.
Wagering Information: Raiders +2/5 O/U 38
Last Week: The Raiders defeated the Patriots on one of the crazier plays in NFL history while the Steelers rode strong running and strong running defense to win in Carolina.
TV: NFLN Rich Eisen (play-by-play), Kurt Warner (analysis), Allison Williams (sideline), Steve Wyche (sideline)
TV Coverage in Your Area: This is a National Broadcast. Enjoy!
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Craig Wolfley (analysis), Missi Matthews (sideline),
Max Starks (sideline)
Westwood One Radio: Mike Watts (play-by-play), Ross Tucker (analysis)
Head Official: Tra Blake. Blake is a software quality assurance manager. He is in his very first season as a head official and has yet to officiate a game involving either the Steelers or Raiders.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: WR Diontae Johnson (Toe) – Questionable, S Terrell Edmunds (Hamstring) – Questionable, LB Myles Jack (Groin) – Questionable LVR: G Alex Bars (Knee) – Questionable, T Jackson Barton (Back) – Questionable, DT Andrew Billings (Fibula) – Questionable, LB Darien Butler (Quadricep) – Questionable
G/T Jermaine Eluemunor (Wrist) – Questionable, G Dylan Parham (Knee) – Questionable, RB Zamir White (Ankle) – Questionable, CB Rock Ya-Sin (Knee) – Out
Injury Notes: While I expect all three Steelers to play, the cold will play a part in each situation as it is very difficult to loosen up. Bottom line here? It’s a complete toss up.
2022 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 27th LVR 10th Passing Offense: PIT 24th LVR 13th Rushing Offense: PIT 18th LVR 13th
Total Defense: PIT 13th LVR 24th Passing Defense: PIT 24th LVR 26th Rushing Defense: PIT 7th LVR 15th
AFC North Rankings: Cincinnati 10-4, Baltimore 9-5, Cleveland 6-8, Pittsburgh 6-8
This Week in the AFC North: Atlanta at Baltimore 1pm SAT, New Orleans at Cleveland 1pm SAT, Cincinnati at New England 1pm SAT
What You Need to Know: The game celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception. At halftime, the Steelers will retire Franco Harris’ number 32… Mike Tomlin became the 17th coach in NFL history to reach 160 wins last week… The Steelers have dropped two straight against the Raiders… Pittsburgh is 4-4 all-time on Christmas Eve and 1-1 in games at home… The Steelers are 6-0 this season when they have the lead after the first quarter… Mike Tomlin is 2-5 all-time against the Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders Names to Know: QB Derek Carr, RB Josh Jacobs, WR Davante Adams, DE Maxx Crosby, TE Darren Waller, WR Hunter Renfrow, DE Chandler Jones, K Daniel Carlson, CB Sidney Jones
What’s at Stake: Both teams have slim postseason chances remaining with the Raiders having slightly better chances than the Steelers. A loss be either team essentially eliminates them from the postseason.
All-Time Series: Raiders lead 17-13. Steelers lead in Pittsburgh 8-6
Postseason History: Tied 3-3
Steelers Game Highs vs LVR: Passing 2012 Ben Roethlisberger 384 yards Rushing 2015 D’Angleo Williams 170 yards Receiving 2015 Antonio Brown 284 yards Sacks 2003 Kimo Von Oelhoffen 3.0 Interceptions 8 players with 2. Most recent Joey Porter 2002
Last Meeting: September 2021 in Pittsburgh. Raiders 26 Steelers 17
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on the Steelers.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Pickett in the Pocket. Kenny Pickett returns after essentially missing the last two games with a concussion. While Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, he’s moved the offense consistently. His three interceptions against the Ravens overshadowed this fact. Last week in Carolina he took much better care of the ball and was efficient with his throws. As far as I’m concerned, the pressure on Pickett to mimic Trubisky’s success has grown. He has to show that he too can move the offense and get the ball into the end zone. If he’s not getting through his progressions and is instead choosing to run then that may not bode well for him and the offense. We need to see that moxie and confident play he’s capable of showing.
2. Taking Down the Two-Headed Monster. Last week, the Steelers did an excellent job against the Panthers’ run surrendering just 21 yards. This week will be different as Josh Jacobs comes in. He’s the first head of this monster. The second is Devante Adams. The former Packer will not be bothered by the cold and wind after playing many games in Green Bay. Teryl Austin, at some point this season, has to realize that when his pass rush isn’t getting home he has to change things up. The Steelers’ secondary is not good when it is forced to cover so Austin has to plan for this. Adams is the main threat but the secondary can’t forget about Hunter Renfrow either. Containing Josh Jacobs is job number one however because if he’s allowed to run free then it opens up play-action and you can forget it at that point.
3. Keep an Eye on the Kickers. Single digit temps and winds around 15-20mph will make it difficult for both offenses. When that happens, the place kickers and punters will suddenly go under the microscope. Chris Boswell should have an advantage with his experience at Acrisure. Pressley Harvin III bounced back after a brutal game against the Ravens and he has to keep the Raiders in difficult field position situations. I would also look for the returners to have some struggles at times too as the wind moves those punts around. Whoever makes fewer mistakes in the kicking game will win this game.
Prediction: I really can’t explain why but the Raiders seem to have the Steelers’ number. This game was to be a celebration of the greatest play in team and NFL history and the retirement of Franco Harris’ number 32. Instead, the mood will be different. I think a lot of this game will depend on how the Steelers react to the loss of Harris. That said, my confidence in Pickett has waned in recent weeks and I’m not sure he can put enough points on the board. I think the Raiders get a couple of plays from their stars and it will be enough.
Raiders 24 Steelers 17
Season Record 9-5