The Oakland Raiders take the long flight out of California across the country to Pittsburgh for an important divisional battle against the Steelers. After a loss to the Bengals last week, the Steelers are falling back and need to get something going here if they want a shot at the division crown. Realistically, it looks like the Bengals have that on lock. They are playing such good football, and while people are waiting for the letdown spot where they crash and burn, the Bengals just keep on winning with no hitches in their step. But there is still a long way to go, including the much difficult postseason. The postseason has been a land of confusion for the Bengals, as they have keep getting there but can never get to the next round. If it keeps going like this, the Bengals will have an automatic first round bye and won’t have to worry about winning the Wild Card round. That is a win in itself for the Bengals. I am interested to know what the line would be in the game if the Bengals keep rolling and are in the Divisional Round. It is well documented they always falter in the playoffs. We’ll see if Andy Dalton can keep it rolling into December and January.
The Raiders or Steelers may be one of the teams the Bengals are playing if that comes to fruition. Wait, the Raiders? Yes, the Raiders, who have finally found themselves in a position of relevancy as we head into Sunday. Last week was the statement. I know it was against the Jets and all, but it was a convincing win against a good defense. The best sign out of the game was the play out of quarterback Derek Carr. By all measures, it looks like the Raiders finally have their guy behind center. The JeMarcus Russell era has been eradicated. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders can maintain this. The Lions were another franchise that suffered years of embarrassment, but then they turned it around. Where are they today, though? Right back to being a laughing stock of a team. In that respect, I’m not going to jump to conclusions just yet on this team. Now, travelling all the way to Pittsburgh to beat the Steelers this afternoon would get me thinking. I make my pick here and disclose whether I believe that is going to occur or not.
Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers NFL
Over 48.5 (-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Raiders vs. Steelers Pick:
Ben Roethlisberger made his long awaited return to the field last week. The Steelers had to survive a few weeks with Landry Jones and Mike Vick at quarterback. With a 4-4 record, I have to think they would have a better record if Roethlisberger had been healthy the entire season. He played last week, but his return was a dud against the Bengals. It seemed like good timing to get him back for that critical matchup, however the Steelers and Roethlisberger fell on their faces. The Bengals advanced to 8-0 while the Steelers regressed to .500. Roethlisberger certainly looked rusty, passing for 262 yards with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. The last one he threw was the dagger for the Steelers, capping off another big win for the Bengals.
In other unfortunate news, the Steelers lost LeVeon Bell to a knee injury, knocking him out for the entire season. The Steelers just can’t seem to get their offense healthy at the same time. As people were worried about their defense before the season started, the offense has actually been playing bad football. Including when Ben was active against the Rams and last week against the Bengals. However, this might be a good situation for the Steelers to get the passing game going. The Raiders are 31st in the NFL against the pass. They allow on average 302.1 yards per game through the air. I think this is a bad spot for the Raiders after they demolished the Jets, 34-20, and the previous week beat the Chargers. This is the first time in four weeks that the Raiders have had to travel out east. Roethlisberger should come back strong after an abysmal start his first game back last week. I see something like 27-20 here for the Steelers.
PICK: STEELERS -4.5 (-110)