Big Lead Sports Bar

11/19/2010

Anyone Else Concerned About the Raiders?



That title sounds funny to even say out loud, but I'd be lying if I said I had some genuine concerns about this weekend's Steeler opponent.

The Oakland Raiders, last-second victors in a 2009 matchup with the Steelers, come to Heinz Field on Sunday to face a Pittsburgh squad that's slowly earned the label of "injury-ravaged". After nine games, that's usually the case for many a team in the NFL, but it's becoming a pretty fair assessment of the Steelers as they sit right now. 

Both offensive tackles are out for the season, and Aaron Smith is out for an extended duration. S Will Allen (concussion), DE Nick Eason (illness), DT Steve McLendon (illness), S Troy Polamalu (Achilles), CB Crezdon Butler (quadriceps) and LB Lawrence Timmons (hip) all sat on Thursday, and if they do go on Sunday, who knows how effective they'll be. DE Brett Keisel is nagged by a hamstring and has been limited in practice, so it sounds like he's not optimistic about Sunday. As an added bonus, WR Hines Ward is coming off a concussion last week against New England, and G Chris Kemoeatu sat out on Wednesday. Unless someone stubs their toe today, I think that's all of the walking wounded at the moment.

As for the on-field product, the Raiders are riding a three-game winning streak and rank 2nd in the NFL in rushing offense and pass defense. Those should prove to be two interesting matchups on Sunday, as the Steelers, despite their defensive problems, still lead the NFL in rushing defense, and Ben Roethlisberger leads the league in passing yardage in the weeks since his return.

Injury-wise, vaunted CB Nnamdi Asomugha is banged up and nursing an ankle injury, and the Raydahs will certainly need him to slow down Big Ben and Co. John Henderson, the mountain of a DT, is also questionable for Oakland on Sunday, as is WR Chaz Schillens. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) and TE Zach Miller (foot) are also nursing boo-boos.

Looking a little deeper, the 5-4 Raiders have made some strides this season, but they have just one win (KC) over a team that holds a winning record at the moment, with wins over St. Louis, San Diego, Denver, and Seattle adding to their total. To boot, they've lost to some truly bad teams (San Fran, Arizona), and were blown out by the same Tennessee Titans in week one that the Steelers defeated on the road in week two.

But the Raiders are hot at the moment. They're coming off of an emotional win against a division rival last week. They're leading their division. Darren McFadden is finally looking like he's supposed to look, leading the NFL in rushing YPG at 108.1. They're a team the media wants to be relevant. And frankly, there are so many other train wrecks in the NFL (Dallas, Minnesota, Washington, etc) that Al Davis' team isn't at the top of the Laughing Stock Power Rankings at the moment.

Conversely, the Steelers are coming off a brutal stretch of three prime-time games that featured two losses, one of the embarrassing nature. They just cut ties with their longtime kicker in a story so big that it got the first six minutes of KDKA's evening news broadcast that night. They're in double-digit numbers on the injury report. People are jumping off the bandwagon. The vultures are circling. This one could be a true test of this team's character as we go through the stretch run of the season, and to be honest, I don't know how it's going to turn out.

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12 comments:

afdfc said...

hope we learnt something from the pats. if hines, rashard, and/or mewelde are ok time for lots of 3 step drops, screens,and quick outs. this o line will not stop the raiders

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

afdfc,

We've been calling for those types of plays out of Bruce Arians for 4 years now.

If it hasn't happened yet then I don't know if it ever will.

Joe said...

Don - what happened to the weekly picks column the last 2 weeks?

Bababooey said...

I bet the Steelers blow it. Who's going to block Richard Seymour??

Kevin said...

I think it may be time to reevaluate the Arians sucks angle. The offensive line ain't good. Mike Wallace is the fastest guy in the league........but beyond that this offense is very, very slow. Three step drops don't tend to work with slow wide receivers and Ben tends to hang on to the ball anyway. I'm worried about every game the rest of the year. IF the defense is only average, this is only an average team.

Someone Somewhere said...

To me, ironically, the silver lining in the Patriots beat-down was that the Steelers finally had their collective tails kicked. During the 6 game losing streak last year, the Steelers managed to find a way to lose nearly every one of those games. Never were they so thoroughly manhandled that it forced them to bear down and not allow that to happen to them again (it was special teams, crucial turnovers, etc costing them games). I HIGHLY doubt that we will see the Steelers beaten physically like they were last week. Yes, the Raiders are good, but if Pittsburgh plays with passion and doesn't beat themselves, they should handle Oakland. The key is getting in front and forcing Jason Campbell to beat them.

Steve said...

Not concerned about the Raiders, just about the Steelers. Doesn't matter who lines up across from them, if they can't do the 5 little things needed to win, they won't.

These little things are:

1. Run the ball somewhat effectively
2. Protect the QB
3. Pressure the other QB
4. Score TD's in the Red Zone
5. Limit mistakes (penalties and turnovers)

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

If we run to the right, our line is strong enough on that side for it to be effective. Flozell Adams hasn't been the debacle most of us thought he was going to be. He can at least still run block well.

And who cares if you're not running effectively, do play action anyways.

The Patriots seemed like they ran a play action pass on every series of downs regardless of whether they were running the ball well or not.

I do blame Arians to an extent. In Bellichick (let's face it, he runs all facets of that team regardless of who the coordinators are) you see a guy who scratches out wins with what he has. I don't see Arians adjusting his playcalling to suit a team that's thin on the offensive line though.

Hopefully Kemo will play, which could help Scott out. But if not, keep Heath over there to help block more often on that edge.

I honestly don't think the middle of our line is terrible anymore when everyone's healthy now that we have Pouncey at center (who's very quick and athletic, which is one thing most of our lineman lack). The Steeler offensive line is probably a stud left tackle away from becoming pretty good IMHO.

okel dokel said...

With the injuries to he defensive line I am concerned the rest of the year. Teams can ignore Eason and focus on Ziggy.

Further, if Troy is out that makes this game more of a concern.

I am still waiting for Ben to get his rhythm back. I would like to see more designed roll outs like they did early in his career.

There is no doubt they need to win this one.

Nate said...

With both tackles out for the rest of the season, I'm concerned about every game going forward. But I'm less concerned about this one.

The Raiders aren't a passing team at all, ranking 24th in the NFL. They need to run to win. With the type of run defense the Steelers have, I think that's a matchup that works in our favor.

And, despite their good passing defense (which will be much worse if Asomugha dosen't play), the Raiders have a bad rush defense (24th in the NFL against the run.) If the Steelers can run the ball at least somewhat effectively and make the Raiders throw, they win.

Corey said...

If i were to tease it this weekend it'd take the raiders+ 12

Corey said...

If i were to tease it this weekend it'd take the raiders+ 12