There, I said it.
I say we take them out, and we'll do it kneeling on the ball to end to game, probably up by more than one score.
Here's why I think this (aside from the fact we proved we could beat them last year):
- They're playing NE this week. There's no doubt this date has been circled on their calendar since the schedule came out. NE has been good-to-great every year, no reason not to think that this isn't going to be a huge game for them, and given it's Belichick, Steelers know that this game is going to require a lot of planning. Long and short of this is ... THIS weekend is the game they're probably all geeked up and planning for, and they are probably going to be thinking about us for the first time/looking at their first Raider game film starting Monday. And we are a pretty unpredictable team at this stage of this season if you ask me.
- OTOH, we will have had two weeks to prepare for them, due to our bye, AND Pittsburgh is considerably MORE predictable of a team. I think this gives us a definite advantage.
- Due to emergence of various offensive players over the course of the past couple of weeks, once we get back Zach and Louis, our offense is going to present matchup nightmares for any team, esp. those w/o a great passing defense. How the hell are you gonna cover everyone in a lineup with Murphy, Miller, Reese, McFadden, and Ford on the field? The 2nd stringers Bush and Myers can catch the ball. Throw in an extra receiver like DHB or JLH, who are admittedly not great by any stretch, but they clearly can make plays and have to be accounted for ... how you gonna cover all these threats? And don't forget our TD machine Khalif ... lulz. Anyways, with everyone healthy, I think our overall receiving line-up becomes pretty damn scary, and tough to defend. And Pittsburgh isn't playing that amazing against the pass.
- Although Pittsburgh's offensive stats on the season are somewhat distorted due to Big Ben being suspended, the fact is, their offense is not really playing all that great. I honestly think, with Nnamdi back in the lineup, along with other injured guys coming back ... the way these guys have been playing and developing ... I think this defense can, and will, shut down the Pittsburgh offense, and do it pretty convincingly.
- Injuries to the Line on both sides of the ball are beginning to take a toll on Pittsburgh. And they still have another game to play in the meanwhile against NE, whereas our lines are healthy on both sides of the ball, and get to rest until this game. I honestly think we stand a very good chance of dominating the LOS on both sides of the ball.
Lets look at some overall rankings for both teams:
Overall Offense: 9th (26.1 ppg, 6th in the league)
Rushing Offense: 2nd
Passing Offense: 22nd
Overall Defense: 7th (20.9 ppg, 13th in the league)
Rushing Defense: 26th (but has been easily top 10 caliber the past 5 weeks)
Passing Defense: 3rd
Overall Offense: 28th (21.8 ppg, 16th in the league)
Rushing Offense: 12th
Passing Offense: 27th
Overall Defense: 4th (15.4 ppg, 1st in the league)
Rushing Defense: 1st
Passing Defense: 24th
So Pittsburgh has the advantage on Defense, in that they are #4 and we are #7. However, on Offense, we are 9th and they are 28th.
In closing, let me just say ... I think that acting like Campbell is going to start all the way up to the game, and pulling a switch and starting Gradz (assuming he's healthy and sharp) at the last second might be a stroke of genius. Given the way Pittsburgh blitzes, and Campbell's general slowness, I like Bruce for this game due to his quick feet and quick release. I DON'T want this to turn into another BG vs JC thread though okay guys?!?
Either way, getting a few passes off for nice gains to any of our talented receiving corps early in the game off of Pittsburgh blitzes (or some big runs) is going to put us in a REAL nice position. We need to stretch this defense and make 'em feel like they blitz and crowd the box, we'll make 'em pay for it.
I think the success of our passing game, along with the attendant picking up of blitzes, is going to be the key for the Raiders. And I think we can have these successes, personally. Pittsburgh's offense doesn't concern me too much, although I worry a little bit about Ward or Wallace (whichever Nnamdi isn't covering) burning CJ or SR a few times in this game. I also worry about JC getting stripped of the ball or throwing a pick or two, thus letting Pittsburgh get cheap points off of turnovers. I don't think that Steelers are going to be able to march 80 yards for TD's in this game at all.