In 2010, the Oakland Raiders do not actually represent the Raiders tradition, but rather an entire fan base who thinks the Raiders have been building a talented football team for a few years now. In order to live up to what the prescribing doctor recommended, the Raiders have to least be a short, if not extensive, playoff contender. In order for anybody to take them seriously, they must beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. This is the Oakland Raiders keys to victory over the Steelers on Sunday.
In order to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, being opportunistic is not an option; it’s a state of the game. If you are unable to take advantage of opportunities you will not be able to manufacture points, especially if the Steelers are in Pittsburgh at their home field. Fortunately for the Raiders, their defense is shutting down their opponents. But all of that can change in just one game as I personally witnessed tonight. In my home town, there was a team, the Walton Warriors, who had shut out two consecutive opponents in the playoffs by a combined 59-0 score and only allowed six points in three high school playoff games. Tonight they lost 24-8.
Earlier this week Jason Campbell mentioned that the Raiders must stay patient in their game on Sunday against the Steelers and I couldn’t possibly agree more with that statement. It holds true that when the trade for Campbell happened he had to grow on me in order to win my good graces as well as the Raider Nation’s, and during the season Campbell has had to earn respect as the quarterback on the field as well. It’s only fair…but like he implied, points are few and far between against this rugged defense and in this game points should be a premium.
To expect too much against a team like Pittsburgh would be setting themselves up for failure. Following a big win against Denver, a respectable showing against Seattle, and a nice second half against Kansas City, it could be easy to see why the Raiders would expect the same kind of results against a banged up Pittsburgh team.
However, this very well may end up being one of those games that you have to stay in it to win it. The Steelers allow very few points to most offenses and the Jason Campbell led Raiders could very well be “most” offenses. The Raiders have to be realistic about the talent they have as well as the fact they are playing on an opposition’s field.
Play the Underdog Card
This could very well be a growing experience for the young Raiders. In my work office pool only two people of a possible 25 chose the Raiders to beat the Steelers; and yes I was one of them. So a win in this particular match-up would obviously be significant in proving to the league that you are a legitimate contender to make a run for the playoffs. Being the underdog sometimes works in favor of a team because it gives them that extra boost necessary to pull out the upset.
This is just about the time of year that the San Diego Chargers are primed to make their late season playoff run. A win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh could be the type of victory that solidifies the confidence the Raiders will need to go on the road to San Diego two weeks from now and sweep the Chargers for the season. Two weeks from now is a long time for a team who is taking the year one game at a time, but a win over the 2008 Super Bowl champions twice in a row on their own field is a big deal moving forward.
Run to Glory
While it is important that the Raiders stop the run game of the Steelers, it is more important that they continue to keep their ground game going, especially across the country on a road trip. So far this year, they are out-clocking their opponents by three minute per game. That may not seem like a lot, but it has allowed their defense to catch some air on the sidelines and during the current win streak, the defense has shown what they are capable of when the offense gives them some breathing time on the sidelines.
The run game is going to be huge in this game. Whoever outgains their opponent on the ground will likely be the victor in this matchup. Being that the Raiders have two good halfbacks in Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, as opposed to just one from Pittsburgh, Rashard Mendenhall, the Raiders are coming into the game with the advantage. Being that the Raiders' offensive line is in better health then the Steelers and that they are a fine group of run blockers to boot means that they should also have an advantage in this category as long as Hue Jackson sticks to the ground game.
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