Last year the 3-8 Oakland Raiders went to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers 27 -24. Pittsburgh was coming off 3 straight losses, 1 of them coming at home. The next week they hosted the Browns and lost 13-6. By no means are Pitt automatic at Heinz Field, and the Raiders have a history of playing up to their opponents level and getting good results against better teams. Can the Raiders beat the Steelers in back to back years? Sure they can, but let’s see what’s standing in their way.
Last week I wrote about how good the Steelers defense is, and has consistently been over the last several years. But the Patriots showed how they can be taken out of the game. The Pats began with a lot of dump off’s and screen plays. They never even tried to get the running game going, and the game plan of getting the ball out of Brady’s hands before the blitz came worked to perfection. Brady threw to the lanes where the linebackers were coming from early on. Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau was reluctant to blitz as the game went on, which gave Brady more time to stand in the pocket and throw. I don’t anticipate the Raiders being as effective as the Patriots were; Jason Campbell isn’t Tom Brady. But the Raiders have played very good football and at times have looked like a playoff team.
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The biggest surprise for Oakland this year has been Head Coach Tom Cable. A former O line coach with the Falcons and the Raiders, Cable was given the job after Lane Kiffen was fired during the 2008 season. Many believed Al Davis would go out and find a big name to take over, but Cable has proved his worth with the Raiders this year. He’s taken an under talented team and gotten them to play passed their potential, and this week’s matchup between Oakland and Pittsburgh will come down to coaching.
Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin looked lost last week against Belichick. He had no answer for the Patriots game plan, and he’ll want to bounce back after being shown by one of the all time greats how to shut a team down. The Steelers will want to get their running game going against the 24th ranked rushing defense. Oakland defends the pass very well, giving up less than 200 yards per game through the air, so look for Pittsburgh to go run heavy early on.
Raiders vs. Steelers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Oakland Raiders +7.5
@ Pittsburgh Steelers -7.5
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Patriots vs. Steelers Picks for Week 11 Betting:
Spread Pick (Top Pick): The Raiders are coming off their bye week and will have taken a lot out of watching the Steelers lose to New England last week. Pittsburgh started the season looking like the best in the NFL, but have faltered over the last few weeks with losses in 2 of their last 3. With the way Oakland’s been playing lately, I can’t justify betting on Pitt to win by more than a TD. These teams are going in opposite directions. The Raiders are 3-0 in divisional games which shows me that they raise their game for the big ones. Oakland are also 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall, while Pitt are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 as a home favorite.
Game Total Pick: I predicted the Over in the Pats Steelers game last week, and was spot on. With Roethlisberger back in the lineup, Pittsburgh are averaging over 22 points a game, while Oakland put up over 26 points per game, and 38 points over their last 3 games. The Over is the way to go with this one, as the Over is 4-0 in the Steelers last 4 as a favorite.