Last Sunday was a dreadful one for Steelers fans. We saw our team blow a 17-point lead at home in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Luckily, we're still in good shape and we have another week. This week should be a chance for the Steelers to redeem themselves and get back on the right track against a terrible Oakland Raiders team. The Raiders are sitting at an embarrassing 2-10 in Jon Gruden's first year as the head coach and are looking at a top five pick in next year's draft. If all things go as they should, this game shouldn't be close. With that being said, let's take a look at this week's opponent.
The Raiders are an example of a team that has been devastated with injuries this season. Their offensive line has been struggling to keep players healthy as they have three starting linemen dealing with injuries this week. Tackle Donald Penn was place on the Injured Reserve due to a foot injury while guard Kelechi Osemele (Toe) and center Rodney Hudson (Ankle) are both listed as questionable. Hudson and Osemele were both limited in Thursday's practice. Former Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant was also placed on the Injured Reserve due to a knee injury. Wide receiver Seth Roberts is listed as questionable with a concussion. He was limited in practice on Thursday.
Oakland is also dealing with some injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Arden Key (Knee) and rookie defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (Achilles) are both listed as questionable and were limited in Thursday's practice. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun (Neck) and free safety Reggie Nelson (Shoulder) were both placed on the Injured Reserve. Corner back Daryl Worley (Shoulder) and linebacker Kyle Wilber (Hamstring) are both listed as questionable. Wilber was unable to participate in Thursday's practice while Worley was limited.
Quarterback Derek Carr has very few weapons around him
Oakland's offense has been one of the most unproductive in the league this year, ranking 22nd in the NFL in total offense. They are led by quarterback Derek Carr who has thrown for 3,112 yards for 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Those stats are pretty good considering what Carr has had to work with. As I mentioned in the injury report, Carr has been protected by a banged up offensive line this season. To add to that, his weapons that he has been given to throw to haven't been the best. Following the trade of Amari Cooper to the Cowboys, Carr's top target has been tight end Jared Cook. Cook has accounted for 54 receptions for 709 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Following the season-ending injury to running back Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders have struggled to establish much of a run game this season. They rank 22nd in rushing offense, averaging 105 yards per game this season. Newly acquired running back Doug Martin has been their leading rusher with 445 yards and two touchdowns so far. Jalen Richard will also come in to give Martin some rest. Richard has accounted for 214 yards this season.
Oakland has one of the worst defenses in the league
As bad as the Raiders' offense has been, their defense has been much worse. They rank 28th in the league in total defense, allowing 396.6 yards per game and 30.6 points per game this season. Their run defense ranks 31st in the league, giving up 153.2 yards per game and 11 rushing touchdowns so far. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead leads this defense with 68 tackles, 94 with assists included. Whitehead is joined in the linebacker core by Marquel Lee and Jason Cabinda. Oakland's defensive line consists of rookie Maurice Hurst and Johnathan Hankins at the defensive tackles along with rookie Arden Key and Frostee Rucker at the defensive ends.
This defense is a lot better against the pass than the run. They rank 14th in the league in passing defense, giving up 243.3 yards per game and 9 touchdowns through the air so far. Corner back Gareon Conley is the best player in the Raiders secondary. He is tied with safeties Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist for the team lead in interceptions with two. Conley is joined in the secondary by corner back Daryl Worly along with Gilchrist and Karl Joseph at the safeties.
As I already said, this game shouldn't be close. The Raiders may score a couple touchdowns to make the scoreboard look a little better but talent will take over in this game. Pittsburgh has too many offensive weapons for the Raiders to handle and the Raiders barely have any weapons at all. I see Jaylen Samuels having a big game in his debut as the starting running back and the Steelers offense will keep rolling in this one. Pittsburgh wins by multiple scores and gets a much needed win after last week's disappointment.