Below are seven matchups or things to look for on Sunday as the Steelers take on the Oakland Raiders.
Easing Ben Back In – The last thing the Steelers want to do is to let quarterback Ben Roethlisberger be exposed to any unnecessary hits as he returns from a concussion. The Steelers will look to use a run pass ratio that tilts heavily to run side. When Roethlisberger does pass, I would expect he does so out of the shotgun more often than not. If they get a huge second half lead, it would be advisable to get backup Dennis Dixon some more work if possible.
Cornerback Play – Head coach Mike Tomlin called out cornerback William Gay in so many words on Tuesday. The Steelers cornerbacks played horrible against the Ravens last Sunday night and missed several tackles in addition to poor coverage. The defense has zero interceptions from their corners this year. Both Gay and Ike Taylor need a much better showing against a young and inexperienced Raiders receiving unit.
Madison Effect – The special teams look to get a boost from last years leading special teams tackler, Anthony Madison, who was signed off of waivers this week from Indianapolis. Madison will replace Stefan Logan on both the punt and kickoff coverage teams.
See Less Seymour – Tackle Willie Colon and guard Chris Kemoeatu will have the privilege of handling left defensive end Richard Seymour on Sunday, who has been one of the few bright spot on the Raiders defense this year. The Steelers like to run to the right with Rashard Mendenhall, so Seymour needs to be sealed off on running plays and kept away from Roethlisberger on passing downs.
Farrior Rebound – Middle linebacker James Farrior seems to have aged very quickly this season and is noticeably a step slower. He must improve his game, especially in coverage of a running back or tight end. The Steelers may look to give him more help with a safety this week as he is surely to be targeted.
Wallace Rookie Wall – Rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace seems as if he may be hitting the proverbial rookie wall the last few weeks. Wallace has only 7 catches over the last 4 weeks along with a turnover and several missed assignments. He needs to get his focus back if the Steelers want to run the table.
Warrior Ward – Hines Ward faced tremendous media scrutiny this week following his comments regarding Roethlisberger sitting out the Ravens game with a concussion. Nothing speaks louder than your play on the field and I fully expect Ward to rebound with a strong game.