Pittsburgh Steelers: Most Critical Matchups Against the Oakland Raiders
Although the Steelers destroyed the Raiders the last time they played in 2010, Ben Roethlisberger actually has a losing record against them in his career at 1-2.
Here are the six most critical matchups that need to go the Steelers' way to avoid a losing record for the first quarter of the season.
Todd Haley vs. Ineptitude
There was a ton of hype for this revamped Steelers’ offense under Todd Haley and he completely laid an egg in Week 1 against the Broncos.
The good thing is that the game plan against New York in Week 2 looked a lot better and a blowout win was the result.
Maybe Week 1 was just an aberration from Haley and hopefully the offense continues to improve and grow against the Raiders this week.
ROLB Chris Carter vs. LT Jared Veldheer
The Steelers will most likely be without James Harrison again this week which means Chris Carter will get the start again in his place.
With Harrison out opposing teams have been able to double and triple team LaMarr Woodley holding him to one sack in two games.
Carter has been getting decent pressure and the Steelers need him to continue his development to take some of the load off of Woodley on the other side.
Steelers Defensive Line vs. Darren McFadden
Two games into the season the Steelers’ defense is 11th versus the run and they will have a challenge against Darren McFadden.
McFadden has not had a great start to the season; however, he is one of the better backs in the league and could go off if the Steelers let him.
Although the linebackers get all of the attention on the defense, the defensive line is really who keeps the Steelers in the top tier against the run.
Dick LeBeau vs. Carson Palmer
Dick LeBeau really knows how to confuse opposing quarterbacks and he has had a lot of success confusing Carson Palmer over the years.
This will be Palmer’s first appearance versus the Steelers as a Raider and he probably loves the possibility that Troy Polamalu may not play in this game.
Without Troy in this game it is up to LeBeau to keep the defense rolling and to try and force the turnover-prone Palmer into a few this week.
Mike Tomlin vs. Relaxation
This is two straight seasons that the Steelers came out of the gates looking lackluster and somewhat unprepared and a lot of that has to fall on the head coach Mike Tomlin.
It is his job to make sure the team does not get complacent and that they are always ready for any opponent no matter the record.
After a decisive win against New York in Week 2, Tomlin has to make sure the team does not relax against the Raiders even with them being 0-2.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Entire Defense
As I stated in the introduction, Ben Roethlisberger does have a losing record against the Raiders including a four-interception game all the way back in 2006.
That being said I do not see that type of performance this week and as always the team will only go as far as Ben takes them.
Although Ben does hold the ball too long at times, mostly the offensive line just doesn’t block for him regardless of the opponent and more times than not Ben makes a play.
Most scoff at me when I say that Ben is the best quarterback in the league, but I truly think he is and he is going to have his best year as a pro this season.