While the Steelers are only 1-1 this season, they have played at a far superior level than the Raiders who sit at 0-2. Oakland has struggled in numerous aspect of the game, most notably running the ball, and is still trying to grasp Dennis Allen‘s system. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has had very little change and is showing it with crisp execution. So who has the edge at each position?
Quarterback: This is nothing against Carson Palmer, but Super Bowl rings speak louder than anything. Ben Roethlisberger has had a great year as evidenced by his passer rating of 99.5, seventh best in the NFL. Palmer has been no slouch either, but the Steelers made mince meat of Palmer when he was still in the AFC North. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Running Back: This group is judged solely on potential because neither team has run the ball effectively. The status of Rashard Mendenhall is still up in the air, so Isaace Redman will get the majority of the carries Sunday. Darren McFadden is capable of being a premier running back in the NFL, but his play this year has been lackluster. Still, McFadden has the talent to take over a game, Redman does not. Advantage: Oakland
Wide Receiver and Tight End: The Raiders have gotten almost no production from their wide receivers and a lot from tight end Brandon Myers. Pittsburgh has gotten a lot out of Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown at wideout and two touchdowns from tight end Heath Miller. Unless there is a major renaissance from Darriius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore, you can’t expect much from the Oakland receivers. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Offensive Line: The Steelers routinely have one of the best offensive lines in football, but they have given up eight sacks is just two games this season. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ line has been inconsistent and can’t run block, but Palmer has only been sacked three times. Still, the Steelers has an experienced left side and center which is enough to put them over the edge. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Defensive Line: The Raiders ‘s defensive line has a lot of talent with Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Matt Shaugnessy. However, the group has underperformed this season and allowed the Miami Dolphins to run all over them. The Steelers have gotten consistently good play from their three guys on the line and are giving up less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Linebackers: Oakland has a lot of talent at this position, but the linebackers are the strength of Pittsburgh’s defense. James Harrison won’t play Sunday, but guys like Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley are still out there to hunt down the ball carrier. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Secondary: Even without Troy Polamalu, the Pittsburgh secondary is dangerous with Ryan Clark patrolling at safety and Ike Taylor shutting people down as a cornerback. Although Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff have played well at safety for Oakland, the carousel at cornerback is hurting this unit. If the Raiders can get some stability than this backfield as a whole could improve. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Specialists: The Raiders may have the best kicker/punter duo in the NFL, but Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler are used too much for Oakland’s liking. The Steelers’ combination of Shaun Suisham and Drew Butler is good, but not as good as Oakland’s pair. Advantage: Oakland
Coach: One coach has coached in two Super Bowls, the other just two NFL games. There’s no reason to debate who has the better coach because not many coaches have Super Bowl rings. Mike Tomlin is as good as they come in the league and Allen is still trying to prove himself. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is clearly the better team on paper and through two weeks on the field as well. Despite making a trip out to Oakland, I doubt the Raiders overcome such a large disadvantage.