Originally published on Silver & Black Report on Oct. 25, 2013
The Oakland Raiders (2-4) return home to O.Co Coliseum to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) after a much-needed bye week.
The bye week gave the Raiders a chance to get their wounded offensive line to get healthy, though the team was only able to get one of their injured offensive lineman back to the practice field.
Center Stefen Wisniewski returned to the starting unit this week after missing the last two games with a knee injury. Wisniewski returning to the offensive line has been called "huge" by Dennis Allen and it is, as it allows emergency center Mike Brisiel to return to his starting position at right guard. The offensive line will need to have a better outing than the Chiefs game, in which quarterback Terrelle Pryor found himself sacked on the ground nine times.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, right tackle Tony Pashos remains doubtful to return to the playing field on Sunday with his hip injury. The injury means that Matt McCants will likely be the Raiders starting right tackle once again.
Luckily for Pryor and the Raiders offense, they're playing a defense that doesn't quite compare to the Chiefs defense. Long known for their stellar defense, the Steelers' defense has not lived up to its previous seasons in the turnover department and rush defense. The Steelers also only have eight sacks on the season, second to lowest in the NFL.
Though they are allowing just 22.0 points and 306.8 yards per game, the Steelers have just two takeaways through six games. This bodes well for Pryor and gives him a chance to right the ship again after throwing three interceptions in his last start.
Pryor and the offense need to protect the ball and not give Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense extra opportunities. The best way for Pryor to prevent interceptions is to keep an eye on the Steelers' Pro Bowl safeties in Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu.
The Steelers defense hasn't presented the same stout rush defense that it has in the year's past. Darren McFadden and the Raiders rushers will look to get a rushing attack going against the Steelers defense that is allowing 109.3 rushing yards per game. The Raiders still possess a strong rushing attack, averaging 129.2 rushing yards per game. Pryor remains the Raiders leading rusher with 285 yards on the ground.
The Raiders will look to continue their recent success in defending the rush against rookie running back Le'veon Bell. Bell is coming off of a 19-rush, 93-yard game against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders have been solid against the Rush the last three weeks, allowing just 89.3 yards per game over the period. The strong ability to stop the rush is good enough to rank sixth in the NFL over the span of the three weeks. The Raiders are the only team in the NFL that has not allowed a 20+ run. The longest run the Raiders have given up was the 19-yard touchdown run to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
Charles Woodson and the Raiders secondary will need to contain speedster wide receiver Antonio Brown and try to eliminate the big play. Brown leads the Steelers in receiving with 548 yards and two touchdowns on 47 receptions.
Oakland and the Steelers have met 20 times in the regular season, with the Raiders leading the series 11-9. The Steelers have not
won in Oakland since 1995, though the Raiders haven't won a game coming off of a bye week since 2002.
The Raiders will remain in Oakland following the game as they take host another home game next week when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Milestones to watch for:
WR Jacoby Ford
• Needs 20 kickoff return yards to pass George Atkinson for seventh place on the
Raiders’ all-time KOR yards list.
DE Lamarr Houston
• Needs five sacks to enter the top 20 in Raiders team history.
K Sebastian Janikowski
• Has now converted on 134-consecutive PAT attempts.
• Needs just 78 points to reach 1,500 for his career.
RB Darren McFadden
• Needs 39 rushing yards to move into eighth place on the Raiders’ all-time rushing
• Needs 475 receiving yards to eclipse 1,500 yards for his career
WR Denarius Moore
• Needs 242 receiving yards to reach 2,000 for his career.
QB Terrelle Pryor
• Is currently third amongst all quarterbacks with 285 rushing yards. Pryor could
eclipse the Raiders’ single-season mark of rushing yards by a quarterback with just
245 more yards. Rich Gannon set the mark in 2000 with 529.
WR Rod Streater
• Needs 142 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for his career.
S Charles Woodson
• Needs five interceptions to tie Ed Reed for first on the interceptions list among all
active players with 61.
• Needs one INT-TD to pass Rod Woodson for first on the all-time list with 12.
• Needs one defensive touchdown to pass Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the
most defensive touchdowns in NFL history with 13.
Probable: CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), Stefen Wisniewski (knee)
Questionable: LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring)
Doubtful: OL Andre Gurode (quad), OT Tony Pashos (hip), OT (Menelik Watson (calf)
Out: S Tyvon Branch (ankle)
Probable: T Kelvin Beachum (ribs), T Marcus Gilbert (quad), DE Brett Keisel (ribs), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), WR Jericho Cotchery (abdomen), DE Cameron Heyward (illness), LB Jarvis Jones (concussion), LB Lawrence Timmons (hand), LB Lamarr Woodley (knee), G Ramon Foster (thumb)
Out: WR Markus Wheaton (finger), TE Richard Gordon (toe)