The Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders find themselves at the bottom of their respective divisions entering the second half of the season. It would take a mammoth collapse at the top for either team to have a chance at the playoffs, but Sunday's game still holds importance as two storied franchises play for pride.
Meet the Oakland Raiders
Terrelle Pryor has shown flashes in 2013, but it's still unclear whether he can be a long-term franchise quarterback. Pryor has thrown for just over 1,000 yard this season, while throwing five touchdowns and five interceptions. In his defense, Pryor hasn't had a lot of weapons around him outside of wide receiver Denarius Moore. An injury-ravaged offensive line, paired with bad play at running back has turned the Raiders' offensive into a one dimensional affair, with Pryor serving as the team's leading rusher.
Oakland's defense is surprisingly stout for a unit that has just 16.0 sacks on the season. The team ranks 16th in passing yards allowed and 10th against the run, leaning on strong linebacker play from Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett.
Meet the Pittsburgh Steelers
Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell could be the key in determining the Steelers' offensive future. A lack of rushing early in the season disrupted how the team worked, and too much pressure was put on Ben Roethlisberger behind a line that has allowed 22.0 sacks on the season. Bell's return from injury has settled the team, capped off with a 93 yard game against the Ravens in week seven. If he can become consistent this team has the ability to play spoiler to a lot of organizations looking past them.
This team's defense has been a weakness all season. LaMarr Woodley is the team's only significant pass rusher on a unit that only has eight sacks on the year. Sunday's most significant matchup will be to see if the Steelers can get enough pressure on Pryor, which will be difficult against a mobile quarterback
Local Takes: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have not had a winning season since 2002 which was also the season they went to the Super Bowl. The post bye week loss has come to be a symbol of their losing ways. Even in the two seasons the team went 8-8, they still managed to lose after the bye week.
Local Takes: Pittsburgh Steelers
Neil Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain looks at some similarities between rookie Le'Veon Bell and Steeler-great Hines Ward.
If the alleged disrespect shown to Bell by the lack of a scholarship offer to Ohio State and only being one of the first 50 players selected in the 2013 draft are one day seen in the same breath as the previous well-known facts, it will be worth the shots being thrown at Bell now.
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Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Silver and Black Pride, and Behind the Steel Curtain for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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Suisham named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after another 4-for-4 outing. Let the man play pool again in the locker room.— BTSC Steelers (@btsteelcurtain) October 23, 2013
The Steelers are favored by 2.5 points by some outlets and as little as 1.5, according to Oddsshark.