Coming off their bye week, the Oakland Raiders will host a familiar rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two teams met last season with the Raiders winning 34-31. This time the Steelers enter with a two game winning streak, looking to make it three in a row, while Oakland is coming off a beating from the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders were sacked 10 times in the loss to the Chiefs. The offensive line should get an upgrade with the potential return of center Stefen Wisniewski. He was a full participant in Friday's practice and is listed as probable for the game. He makes all the offensive line calls and adjustments which is a huge help to quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The Steelers will look to contain Pryor with the NFL's fourth best passing defense, allowing 197.5 yards per game. However, they have struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterback with only eight sacks all season. With that in mind, the Raiders will need to rely on Pryor and running back Darren McFadden. McFadden had a 61 yard touchdown last year against Pittsburgh and the Steelers allow 109.3 rushing yards per game. Pryor will also try to loosen that stout defense by stretching the field with wide receiver Denarius Moore.
Defensively, the Raiders will be tasked with limiting Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger started off the season with nine turnovers in the team's first four games. They all came in losses. In the two wins, Roethlisberger has zero turnovers and two touchdowns. It is the same recipe the Raiders have used for success. When Pryor and Roethlisberger, along with most NFL quarterbacks, don't turn it over, they are successful. Pittsburgh has allowed 22 sacks this season. That will be a huge part of defensive coordinator Jason Tarver's game plan. He likes to activate extra players on the blitz and that will not change against Roethlisberger.
Defensive end Lamarr Houston is the anchor for the Oakland pass rush. If he can impact the game with pressure, it will disrupt the Steelers and force Roethlisberger into mistakes. Roethlisberger is a large man and very difficult to bring to the ground. Therefore, the Raiders will need to keep the hits coming to wear him down and get more than one player to provide pressure.
During their two game winning streak, the Steelers have relied on rookie running back La'Veon Bell to carry the ball and provide offensive balance. Oakland will try to keep him at bay and force the Steelers into a one dimensional offense. If they are successful, they can bring extra heat to make Roethlisberger uncomfortable. If the Raiders cannot get to Roethlisberger, he will use tight end Heath Miller in the middle of the field and wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside. Brown and Sanders are speedy with big play potential. They will test cornerbacks Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter and DJ Hayden. Jenkins has been a rock for the Raiders secondary and has the ability to make things very difficult for these receivers.
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