This week has some games that could be very interesting. This, however, is probably not one of them, as the Pittsburgh Steelers have opened as 10.5-point favorites over the Oakland Raiders in their Week 14 matchup at Oakland Coliseum. Kickoff is set for 4:25pm EST on December 9th.
The Steelers are scoring admirable 28.8 PPG (4th). And it’s crazy to think they could be even better if they’d just stop turning the ball over. Pittsburgh has committed 20 turnovers this season (26th), which includes one last week against the Chargers.
Errant Ben Roethlisberger passes have been the source of an intolerable 13 of those giveaways. The rest have come from the team fumbling the ball away. Ball security will be of utmost importance for Roethlisberger and the Steelers moving forward.
Defensively, Pittsburgh allows 100.4 yards per game on the ground (8th) and 228.5 passing (8th). The result has been the Steelers allowing 23.5 points per game (16th). Though they haven’t consistently demonstrated it, Pittsburgh’s defense has the talent to frustrate an offense and keep them out of the endzone.
Fortunately, Pittsburgh’s defense avoids any sort of offensive powerhouse this week, when they line up across from the Raiders. Oakland is scoring just 18.3 points per game (29th).
When you have as much difficulty running the football as the Raiders have this season, you can’t expect to score many points. The opposition has been able to focus on Derek Carr and the passing attack since there’s no threat of a running game.
Oakland ranks 22nd in rushing, averaging a paltry 105.3 yards per game on the ground. Doug Martin has at least provided a bit of hope for the uninspiring backfield, amassing 445 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 105 carries, good for an admirable 4.2 yards per carry. Getting Martin more carries has to be atop the Raiders’ list of to-dos this week, as trying to have Carr shoulder the entire offensive load has not resulted in much success..
The Raiders defense has not been a strength this season. The 243.3 passing yards per game they give up (14th) allows teams to score a dreadful 30.6 PPG (31st). Their secondary cannot take all the blame, though. It would be easier to cover if opposing QBs didn’t have all day to throw, as they only average 0.8 sacks per game (32nd in the NFL). Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster have to be licking their chops for this one.