Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Game Day Open Thread


The Oakland Raiders roll into Heinz Field today to renew a historic rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And for the first time in quite a while, this is a game with some real meaning. The Raiders are looking to sustain the momentum they’ve built over the last few weeks while the Steelers are looking to get back on track now that Ben Roethlisberger is back from injury. And oh yeah, both teams jockeying for playoff positioning.

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How long has it been since we’ve been able to say – with a straight face – that the Raiders are in control of their own playoff destiny?

This is the first time the Raiders have been over .500 this late in a season since 2011 when they were 8-7 under Hue Jackson. Of course, we all know how that turned out.

But this Raiders squad is different. This Raiders squad is far better. More disciplined. More talented. This Raiders squad has the potential to be very, very special.

They’ve already far exceeded the expectations that some of the so-called “experts” set for them. Most had the Raiders winning three, maybe four games. A few of the more generous and optimistic “experts” had pegged the Raiders to win no more than six games this year.

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While they currently sit at 4-3, the Raiders are not only in control of one of the wild card slots at the moment, they are also showing the potential to win quite a few games. They are in a stretch of games that can be considered winnable, and given how they’ve played the last few weeks, they might just be able to hang with anybody in this league.

The arrow is most definitely trending in the right direction for the Raiders. They have a quick strike, highly potent offense, and a defense that is beginning to come around. Some point to a pass defense that is ranked near the bottom of the league, but over the last three weeks, they’ve absolutely handled the likes of Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers – who is the engine that drives the league’s top ranked pass defense – and Ryan Fitzpatrick/Geno Smith.

There is a lot of football left to be played yet, of course. But given the disparity between the top and bottom teams in the AFC – and the fact that the Raiders are right in between those two groupings, you have to start liking their chances.

Oakland has a lead in the all-time series with Pittsburgh 15-12, and have won two of the last three they’ve played against the Steelers. And there hasn’t been a game bigger than this for Oakland in a long, long time. They are going to need to bring their A game against a Pittsburgh team that is better than their 4-4 record would indicate.

This is a Steeler defense that can get after the quarterback. With 22 sacks on the season, they’re one of the better pass rushing defenses in the NFL. They blitz more than any other team, and their guys can really lay the lumber.

Oakland is catching a big break in not having to face Le’Veon Bell, who is out for the season with injury. But DeAngelo Williams is capable, and of course, they still have to deal with Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown – who is arguably, the best receiver in the league.

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The Raiders are going to have their hands full, but if they come to play and have the intensity and energy they’ve had the last few weeks, they have a real shot to take this game.

What do you folks think? What are the biggest storylines to you? What are you expecting to see today?

This is your forum. Let’s hear what’s on your mind! Step on up and talk all things Raiders!