Plain and simple this is a game the Steelers MUST win if they want to make a run at one of the two Wild Card spots in the AFC. Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns from a one game absence and the Steelers must protect him at all cost. Running back Rashard Mendenhall looks to get a heavy load against the Raiders 31st ranked rush defense which is allowing 161.1 yards a game on the ground at 4.6 yards an attempt.
In the passing game, the Steelers will likely stay away from Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and instead feed tight end Heath Miller and Hines Ward the ball more in the center of the field. Screen passes may also be utilized as the Raiders linebackers will want to focus more on stopping the run.
On defense, the Steelers want to leave both corners one on one with some safety help, while concentrating more on pressuring Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. The biggest threat in the Raiders passing game is tight end Zach Miller, who leads the team in receptions with 39 on the year. On passing downs, a defensive back should be covering Miller instead of linebacker James Farrior.
Like the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, this is a game the Steelers win on paper. The Chiefs game should of served as a wake up call that no game is a gimme on any given Sunday. The Steelers are currently on a 3 game losing streak and will be focused this time at home. It will not be a blowout, but should be an easy win.
Prediction: Steelers 23 Raiders 10