Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Who I like, Oakland version

This is an interesting matchup for the Steelers, who have had their issues heading out to the Black Hole.

In his past three games against the Raiders, Ben Roethlisberger has thrown nine touchdown passes and one interception. So clearly, he has not been the issue in the Steelers going 1-2 in those games.

What has been the issue is the defense.

Take, for example, last season, when the Steelers lost 34-31 in Oakland.

The Steelers held a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter that they allowed to slip away - in part thanks to an Antonio Brown fumble in Oakland territory.

Carson Palmer brought the Raiders back, leading them to 13 unanswered points and looking as good as he has at any time since, I don't know, Kimo von Oelhoffen wrecked his knee.

Darren McFadden also hurt the Steelers early in that game with his running to open things up for Palmer.

This year, however, it's Terrelle Pryor starting for the Raiders. In fact, this will be just the ninth career game for Pryor, essentially making him only slightly better than a rookie.

And we all know what the Steelers' record is against rookie quarterbacks with Dick LeBeau as their defensive coordinator coach.

Pryor is a dangerous threat. He leads all AFC quarterbacks in rushing and has actually been decent as a passer, completing well over 60 percent of his throws this season. But he's also been intercepted five times in just 136 passes and has three fumbles, so there's good and bad.

And he'll be playing behind something of a makeshift offensive line that has three starters banged up.

The thing the Steelers must guard against, however, is the fact that this is a trap game, sandwiched between a home game against Baltimore and a road game versus New England.

But I liked the fact that head coach Mike Tomlin gave the team a history lesson in the Pittsburgh-Oakland rivalry this week, something he really hadn't done before.

I also liked the fact that when one reporter, trying, as he said, to work ahead this week, started asking defensive backs how they would handle covering Rob Gronkowski, they told him they would worry about that next week.

The Steelers are 2 1/2 point favorites in this one and must have it before their trip to New England next week. After that game, the schedule eases up considerably.

Take the Steelers, 23-20


Anonymous said...

Just read an interesting Steelers fact. Of our 8 sacks only 3 came in less than 3.2 seconds. In other words 5 of our 8 total sacks were coverage sacks that most any pass rusher could have made.

Kinda puts to bed the idea that Woodley is playing that well at all. That contract has been a disaster since he got it. Harrison made Woodley's career.

marc said...

offensively, the steelers should be able to move the ball and score. raider's defense is OK, but nothing special. most importantly - no turnovers.

defensively, as much as i hate to say it, this should be a "contain them" game. pryor, while completing a high % of passes, is basically throwing to moore at WR (occasionally one of the other WR's) and the RB's out of the backfield. stuff the run, keep moore in check and don't let pryor turn the corner. pryor is not capable of just dropping back and consistently beating you with the pass. actually, the raiders are last in the league in passing yards per game.

steelers by 10.

marc said...

regarding the woodley comment, i do think woodley is playing better than last year. but, i do not think he is playing up to the contract he received.

DD said...

Timmons is earning his pay much more than Woodley. Woodley is an avg NFL LB. That is all. He is paid like a top 10 LB unfortunately. Best we have for sure, but that ain't sayin all that much

Dale Lolley said...

Woodley is getting doubled quite a bit. They need some kind of push from the other side. It's too easy to block him with two when you get into obvious passing situations.

As for the 3.2 seconds. I'd love to see a stat from around the league to see how many sacks occur before that time. I'm guessing it's not many.

Anonymous said...

To anyone who thinks Woodley is under-performing; here's what PFF said about him recently:

"Regardless of who gets the nod at right tackle, they will have their hands full having to block LaMarr Woodley. He has rushed only 64% of his snaps, but has been one of the most effective when doing so. Woodley’s 15.0 Pass Rushing Productivity is third-best among 3-4 outside linebackers. Former second-round pick Jason Worilds and rookie first-rounder Jarvis Jones have struggled to fill the void left by James Harrison’s departure. The pair has combined for one sack, three hits, and nine hurries over six games. Dick LeBeau is one of the most creative coordinators when pass rushing, so expect the Steelers to utilize others as well."

Patrick said...

Maybe I'm crazy but I feel like the Steelers are going to beat the Raaahdas up and down the field. I just don't think they match up well. Pryor is going to make big mistakes, their o-line is a mess, and their D's strength (their secondary?) isn't really the type that causes this team fits.

I also expect Brown or Sanders to return a punt/kick.

I'll go Steelers 27-10 so they get everyone excited for the big let down in NE next week.