Behind Enemy Lines: Oakland Raiders
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Steelers at Raiders, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, CA, Sunday 4:25, CBS
Spread: Pittsburgh (-4) 44 O/U
All-time regular season series: Oakland leads 10-9 and 5-4 in Oakland/LA.
Last Meeting: November 21, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Steelers 35-3
The Oakland Raiders have struggled out of the gate in the 2012 season, losing their first two games by a combined 30 points. The Raiders have held 1st half leads in both of the games they have played this year, but have been dominated in the second half. The ground game, something that in recent years have been a strength to the team, has been a weak link this season. The Raiders have averaged just 34 yards per game on the ground and have allowed nearly 150 yards per game. The last time the Steelers played in Oakland however, it did not end well, with the Raiders winning 20-13 despite being held to under 100 total yards. In that game Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted 4 times, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The Steelers dominated that game, outgaining the Raiders 360 to 98, but they could not find the end zone until late in the 4th quarter and by that time it was too late.
Offensive Player to Watch: Darren McFadden, Running Back
Over the past few seasons, when healthy, McFadden has proven to be one of the best overall backs in the game. However, he hasn’t been healthy recently. McFadden missed the last half of last season with a foot injury and hasn’t seemed right yet this season. He has only 54 yards rushing in 26 attempts in 2 games. McFadden is also a weapon out of the backfield, leading the team in receptions with 15 catches thus far in the season. Maybe Raiders quarterback, Carson Palmer said it best when talking about the teams struggling running the ball this season, saying, “The saving grace is [Darren] McFadden’s back there. He’s one arm-tackle away from breaking off a 40-50 yarder. He’s got that potential. He’s got that ability. He’s done it before.”
Defensive Player to Watch: Richard Seymour, Defensive Linemen
Despite getting longer in the tooth, Richard Seymour can still dominate in the trenches and with the Steelers struggles on the offensive line this year expect to hear his name being called a lot on Sunday afternoon.
Strengths: The Raiders Kicking Game
When Sebastian Janikowski is your kicker, you don’t worry about being in the red zone on offense, he has a strong enough leg that when you cross the 50, he starts to warm up. Then again, when your field goal kicker is considered the biggest strength to your team, that doesn’t say very much for the other 52 guys in the black and silver.
Weaknesses: Run Defense
The Miami Dolphins, who haven’t had a big time running threat since Ricky Williams was running for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2002-03, ran for 263 yards and 4 touchdowns on Sunday against the Raiders defense. A bad run defense could be exactly what the doctor has ordered for the Pittsburgh Steelers rushing attack that ranks 30th in the league after 2 weeks of the season.
He Said It:
“We’ve got to be able to come out and play with energy, play with passion. We’ve got to execute. They’re obviously a well-coached team… It’ll be a huge challenge for us. We’re going to have to be ready to go on Sunday.”-Raiders Head Coach, Dennis Allen