After a disappointing week 1 loss in Denver, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to make a statement in their home opener against the New York Jets. Defeating the surging Jets by 17 points, the Steelers demonstrated their resiliency. They accomplished this despite the obstacles that stood in their way. If the Steelers hope for a similar outcome in Oakland, they will have to do the same.
The Steelers will be operating without pro-bowl caliber defensive players James Harrison and Troy Polamalu for another week. James Harrison has yet to play a game this season, and it looks as if he will have to wait at least two more weeks to do so. Similarly, Troy Polamalu will be riding the pine for a second consecutive game while he nurses a right calf injury. Hopes are high that they will both be able to return to action following the Steelers’ week 4 bye.
If the Steelers are to claim another victory in week 3 they will have to overcome a hostile environment. The Black and Gold have won six of the last nine meetings between these two teams, but they have not left Oakland County Coliseum with a win since 1995. There is one Steeler, however, who is excited to be playing in Northern California.
DeMarcus VanDyke will be playing his first game in Oakland as a member of the opposing team. He was originally drafted by the Raiders, but was cut before the start of the 2012 season. The Steelers signed VanDyke after an injury to offensive lineman David DeCastro. VanDyke has proven to be an advantageous addition to the squad. He has made numerous key plays this season, and will have the opportunity to exploit his former team. The Raiders are dealing with a banged up secondary, and they might just miss having VanDyke on their roster.
The Oakland Raiders have been struggling defensively this season, especially against the rush. The Raiders currently own the 31st ranked rush defense. They have, on average, allowed 147 rushing yards per game. That works out to be about 4.7 yards per carry. All of this is great news for a Steelers team that is attempting to re-establish a dwindling rush game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to enter their early season bye week with a winning record. In order for this to happen, they will need to defeat a floundering Oakland Raider team. The Raiders are 0-2 on the season and will likely be playing with an air of desperation. The Steelers should be able to overcome the Raiders, but for that to happen the Steelers will have to remain focused and exploit their opponent’s defensive flaws.