The majority of football fans can recall the historic clashes of the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers because they went at each other’s throats for years, with the classic battles of Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann and Raiders safety Jack “The Assassin” Tatum the most prominent memories.
A lot has changed between these two organizations as they matchup against each other Sunday. Oakland holds the advantage in the wins and losses category with an 11-9 record against the Steelers.
The Raiders are showing up on defense with the help of new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, who many consider a mad scientist of some sorts. He has a Master’s Degree in microbiology and is seems to concoct defensive plays that excel with the defensive personnel of the Silver and Black.
Oakland is coming off a bye week and regardless of critics, has shown promise. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has little experience, but has shown and unbelievable ability to extend plays where most other quarterbacks would take the sack or just throw the ball away.
Running back Darren Mcfadden is healthy and the Raiders running game is one to be reckoned with the the combination of Pryor and Mcfadden and an occasional Marcel Reece.
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau better have something up his sleeve to improve this defense that has put up a miserable eight sacks and is not performing as it has in recent years. He is widely considered one of the best defensive coordinators in the history of the game, but his defense isn’t showing that.
Ben Roethlisberger has only beaten the Raiders two out of the five times he’s faced them. The odds may not be in his favor this time around with all of the issues that the Steelers have had, although they are coming off a surprise win against the Baltimore Ravens, improving their record to a 2-4.
Roethlisberger hasn’t been the same quarterback, only throwing seven touchdown passes this season and has no real running game. The Steelers’ leading rusher, Le’Veon Bell, only has 184 yards. With the huge downgrade to their running game, they have become some what one-dimensional.
In today’s game, an offense needs a healthy balance. Pittsburgh doesn’t have it.
Football has changed a lot and the game may not be as violent as it was in the 70s when Tatum was notorious for hits and Swann for his acrobatic catches, but you an expect the same amount of trash talking, if not more between these two teams that really don’t like each other.
This doesn’t look like a Mike Tomlin-coached Steelers team regardless the talk of some its players. I’d give the Silver and Black a shot at winning this Week 8 matchup.