The Oakland Raiders have one of their most critical games of the season Sunday at Pittsburgh. The Raiders, who are 3-0 against AFC West competition, can put the rest of the AFC on notice that they will be in the postseason conversation with a road win over the Steelers.
Oakland has won three straight games and is tied with Kansas City with the best record in the AFC West at 5-4, although Oakland currently owns the tiebreaker, which could loom large down the road. Pittsburgh is coming off a home loss to New England and the Steelers are banged up on the offensive line.
I caught up with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to discuss Oakland’s chances of winning this game. Williamson thinks Oakland does, indeed, have a chance to win at Pittsburgh. Williamson believes Oakland’s best chances of winning starts on the defensive front and it must keep it a low-scoring game. Here are some of Williamson’s thoughts on the matchup:
“A lot of people think the Pittsburgh defense is trouble because of what happened against New England. But that was the worst matchup for the Steelers. New England uses short passes to receivers who run precise routes. You can beat Pittsburgh that way. But that’s not how Oakland plays. Really, an offense like Oakland is the best matchup for Pittsburgh’s defense. The Raiders run the ball. But no one runs the ball on the Steelers and the Raiders won’t either. The Raiders also like hitting you with the bomb. But the Steelers don’t give up big plays, so I think it will be tough for Oakland’s offense.
“But on the other hand, I think Oakland can stay in this game with its defense. Its defensive line has been terrific. Richard Seymour has been great and Tommy Kelly is having his best year. They can do some damage against a beat-up Pittsburgh offensive line. If Oakland can harass Ben Roethlsiberger, this can be interesting … I think this can be low scoring and a grind-it-out game. If Oakland can keep it close and maybe score on a fumbled sack or an interception, it might be able to pull it out.”