Regular Season Week 13
Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 10:00 a.m. PDT
2009 Records: Raiders (3-8), Steelers (6-5)
History: Oakland has a 9-8 series lead
Line: Steelers by 14 points
SB Nation Raiders vs Steelers Preview here.
Being a Raiders fan since the early 70's, then looking at first glance at "Oakland at Pittsburgh", I can't help but have memory lane moments of how those two great teams played each other during that decade. Two blue collar teams playing for the love of the game and leaving it all out there on the field with some of the greatest players of the game. We were fortunate to watch the Snake, Branch, Freddy, Ghost, Van Eeghen and that great offensive line to go with Sistrunk, Hendricks, Dr. Death and the Assassin to name a few. The Steelers had Bradshaw, Swann, Franco Harris, Mean Joe, L.C., Lambert and Blount. What a great rivalry! Those were teams that fans loved to hate. Now, nearly 3 decades later, the Steelers have returned to the same brand of football on their way to winning two more championships. For our Raiders, well we have those memories and the annual pleading of "wait til next year".
Now for today's game, we have a Steelers team that is smarting following three straight losses and is on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture, going against the Raiders who had 10 days to prepare following their short-week-ill-prepared-Thanksgiving Day-loss to the Cowboys. At 3-8, the Raiders are reduced to the spoiler roll and can definitely deliver a blow to the Steelers today if they were able to pull off an upset. But will the Raiders with the extra time be any more prepared for this game then they were for Dallas? That's hard to believe when you here the "peaches and cream" comments from Tom Cable compared to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin's, "We will unleash hell" . Nor when you read the very detailed call out from Nnamdi about the "simplicity" of the Raiders defense.
This game will feature the return of "Big Ben" Roethlisberger who suffered a concussion two weeks ago and it is widely known that he is prone to taking a lot of hits. The Steelers however, did not allow a sack last week with Dennis Dixon at QB. The Steelers' offensive line is weakest at center and gets progressively better at the tackles. Also, Roethlisberger is extremely difficult to get on the ground. One player who can cause Pittsburgh and Big Ben some problems is Richard Seymour, who has not lost a step and can line up anywhere on the defensive front. Trevor Scott, now replacing Thomas Howard at the weak side spot could also be a problem. Also, expect the Steelers to run the hell out of the ball behind Rashard Mendenhall until the Raiders can prove they can stop him.
For the Raiders offense, who knows what to expect? They supposedly will try to "establish the run" again, but if they fall behind that plan is quickly abandoned. No one runs on the Steelers. Well, the Ravens did a nice job on the ground last Sunday night, but overall, this defense gives very little room to run, and the Raiders don't have Ray Rice. With the extra time to prepare for this game and the extra work put in by Gradkowski and the receivers during practice to work on timing, you would hope that they can get Bruce enough time to connect to some of his receivers. The line will have to protect well as they no doubt will be facing immediate and constant Steelers blitz.
What are your expectations for today's game Raider Nation? What Raiders player if any, will standout?