The Oakland Raiders face a big task in taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Black Hole, Sunday afternoon. Since 2001, this series is at a 3-3 stand-still, but Pittsburgh has been the far superior, and more accomplished team.
Oakland head coach, Bruce Allen faces a must win game three weeks into the season, something he’d rather not have to face so early in his young tenure as the Raiders coach. For them to pull off a surprising victory, execution, and effort needs to be displayed in an efficient manner on the field.
Offensively, the Raiders must establish their running game behind running back, Darren McFadden. After two games, he only has a total of 54 yards, as the Raiders are averaging a league-low 2.0 yards per carry (keep in mind that last year, they were third in the league in the rushing department). Offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp must find a way to get “RUN DMC” going ASAP, or his second stint in Oakland as a play caller could be over before you know it.
Raiders quarterback, Carson Palmer, must finish off drives with putting points on the board. He took ownership against the Dolphins last week, as he should have, and has got to a better job of converting on third down. He also needs to utilize his wide receiver options a lot more. Tight end Brandon Myers, is becoming a solid option for him, but Palmer must give wide receivers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Denarius Moore more chances to make plays down the field. If the Raiders can execute balance on offense, this could give them a legitimate shot of beating the Steelers.
Defensively, the Raiders are reeling from giving up a huge ground game to the likes of Reggie Bush last week, and face a depleted Pittsburgh backfield, so they should do fairly well against the run. Their main issue will be in the secondary. After cleaning house, and cutting all of their defensive-backs from last year, the Raiders starting cornerbacks, Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are out with injuries, with an unknown time table of when they will return.
Containing speedy, and shifty Steelers wide receivers, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown will be key for the Raiders on Sunday, so expect defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, to send a lot of pressure at Steelers’ quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger to disrupt their passing game, a task easier said than done.
Allen needs a signature win to give Raider Nation a sense of hope and belief, that a “commitment to excellence” is truly being established. Another poor showing could have him on the hot seat before a third of the season is over. The Silver and Black must play with a sense of passion and purpose today, if they expect to get a much needed win, and stay in contention for their division.
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Written by Arthur Kai