By Danny Cox
The Oakland Raiders have got to hope that a week off will breathe some new life into their passing game as they are entering week eight of the season with the worst one in the entire NFL. Still, they’ve got a number of other things working for them and they’ll have to use all of them to get past a visiting Pittsburgh Steelers team that has a two-game winning streak going for them.
One of those games is over the Super Bowl defending champion Baltimore Ravens.
Steelers on Offense
Ben Roethlisberger has finally started hitting a bit of a stride and he is learning to persevere in this season’s passing game even though he is dealing with issues that aren’t really his fault. Big Ben has played well the last couple of weeks, but the offensive line has got to do better.
If Richard Seymour were still with the team, he would be looking forward to this week’s game more than anything.
Through six games, the Steelers have allowed Roethlisberger to be sacked 21 times. Yes, a monstrous 21 times already this season. Should the Raiders be able to get a good pass rush going on the Steelers, it is very possible that it could screw up a decent passing game.
That is where Charles Woodson and the rest of the Raiders secondary are going to have to do their job too.
The Steelers have Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, and Heath Miller as weapons for Roethlisberger and that is a scary situation for any defense in the NFL. All four of those targets have over 200 yards receiving and at least one touchdown each. Just when you think all of them are covered; another one gets in the clear.
Injuries have hurt the running game for the Steelers, but the Raiders still need to keep an eye on Le’Veon Bell and Felix Jones. Neither has looked overly impressive so far this year, but they are not to be forgotten.
Steelers on Defense
Defensively, the Steelers have a lot of weapons so it is quite shocking that they’ve had 40 points put up on them this season and 34 points in another game.
Still, they’re able to hold their own against any offense and they’re led by safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. The Raiders have got to establish a running game early on so that it can open up possibilities in the passing game.
If Oakland falls behind and has to fall back to the passing game only; it’s going to be difficult to get anywhere against that defense.
Pittsburgh is not a takeaway team and that’s a good thing for the Raiders. They have recovered no fumbles yet this season and have recorded a mere two interceptions on the season. Throw on top of that the fact that the Steelers have only accumulated eight sacks this year and they’re good, but not that good.
Terrelle Pryor and the rest of the Raiders need to come out of this bye week relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated to the point that they can do their best against a team that is playing well now, but not the greatest.
For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.