Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov 8th 10:00am PDT
Spread: PIt -4.5
MoneyLine: OAK +220 | PIT -180
The Steelers are hosting the Raiders in a battle of two teams heading in different directions that will have strong implications on the race for a wild card spot. Pittsburgh (4-4) is losers of two in a row at home, including a narrow defeat last week to the Bengals. Oakland (4-3) enters the matchup with a two game winning streak with impressive blowout wins at home over San Diego and the New York Jets.
Oakland’s stock is the highest its been all season, and for that reason, now is an excellent time to fade them. There is no denying that the offense has taken tremendous strides with the rapid improvement of Derek Carr, the stellar play of rookie Amari Cooper and the emergence of running back Latavius Murray. But the Steelers defense will offer stiffer resistance than they have seen recently.
Tougher Sledding Ahead
This will be the second game all season the Raiders have faced a strong opponent on the road. Oakland was blown out in week one 33-13 by the Bengals. They suffered a narrow loss at Chicago and held on for a close win against Cleveland after squandering a big lead. Chicago and Cleveland are a combined 4-12. Oakland has not played a game on the road since week 4’s lost at Chicago.
Roethlisburger Getting More Comfortable
This will be Ben Roethlisburger’s second start since suffering a sprained MCL that sidelined him for four games. Roethlisburger had mixed results in his first start, tossing a touchdown to Antonio Brown on the first possession but threw three interceptions, including two in the final two minutes. Look for Roethlisburger to be much more comfortable this week with a full week of practice and no uncertainty over his status. He should have plenty of time to throw against Oakland, which is 21st in Football Outsider’s adjusted defensive sack rate.
According to FO’s DVOA metric for weekly performance, the Steelers outplayed the Bengals 24.7% to -4.4% last week. This is generally suggestive of better performance per play, since luck-based factors such as recovered fumbles are discounted. For example, the Bengals fumbled twice but were fortunate to recover both of them. The Steelers largely shut down a Bengal’s offense that has rolled over every other opponent it has encountered this year and ranks as the 2nd offense by DVOA.
Strength of Steelers’ O-Line
Although the Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell to a torn MCL last week against Cincinnati, they boast a strong run-blocking offensive line, ranking 7th in FO’s adjusted line yards. DeAngelo Williams should be able to find running lanes against Oakland’s defensive front.
The Raiders boast an improved defense this year but they haven’t shown an ability to contain an efficient, balanced attack. They have been exploitable through the air, grading out at -6.1 in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades. The Steelers rank as the 7th most efficient passing game according to PFF, even with the lackluster performances of Landry Jones and Michael Vick for 4+ games dragging down the numbers.
The Steelers will put a end to Oakland’s rapid rise to prominence this week with as Roethlisburger demonstrates why he is still an elite quarterback in the NFL.
The Play: Steelers -4.5
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