What started out to be a horrendous season at 0-4 is now turning around for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they have won two straight, and going for their third on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. The momentum is swinging in the favor of the black and yellow, and these Steelers are determined that they are not out of it just yet.
When going up against a good Raiders defense on Sunday, there will be one major key to a victory. I think Ben Roethlisberger will do just fine as he has all season long, even with limited weapons. Roethlisberger is amidst a season in which he’s thrown seven touchdown passes and five picks to go along with 1,655 yards — good for a 90.7 rating.
Roethlisberger isn’t the key to victory.
The Raiders’ run defense has been surprisingly good this year, coming in at 10th in the league and giving up just short of 100 yards per game. For this reason, running back Le’Veon Bell has to have a solid game in order for the Steelers to win. Eventually, Roethlisberger won’t be able to do it all for Pittsburgh and will need some help from a consistent running game.
Bell has appeared in three games so far, rushing for 184 yards on 51 carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns. His best game was most recently in week seven when he ran the ball 19 times for 93 yards, averaging a healthy 4.9 yards per carry with a long of just 11. Bell isn’t a guy that will rip off a 50-plus yard run very often, but he’ll gain yards almost every time he touches the ball if only he could get even minimal blocking.
Look for Bell to get going early against Oakland. Even if he doesn’t start hot, the Steelers can’t get away from him down the stretch. Wearing down that front seven will be a huge key to eventually pulling out a win. If Bell can get 20 touches, I’d be safe betting on Pittsburgh in this one.