Sunday's game against Pittsburgh will be a litmus test for the Oakland Raiders. Though the Raiders are currently in possession of the AFC's first wild card spot, three of their four victories have come against teams with losing records.
They dominated the Jets last week, but there were two factors working to their advantage: Ryan Fitzpatrick's first quarter thumb injury and New York's long trip to the West Coast. If the Raiders want to prove they are legitimate contenders, beating the Steelers on the road would be quite the convincing statement.
The Steelers appear to be vulnerable for an upset, too, as they're coming off a crushing 16-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Star running back Le'Veon Bell suffered a severely torn MCL and will miss the rest of the season, leaving Pittsburgh without one of its most dynamic offensive weapons.
That's good news for the Raiders, especially considering their defense has allowed the sixth-most yards in the NFL this season. Ben Roethlisberger will be looking for a rebound performance in his second game back from a knee injury, and may have found the perfect opponent.
Roethlisberger completed 28 of 45 passes for 262 yards with three interceptions in his return last week -- two of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. On Sunday, the Oakland defender who he'll have to watch out for is free safety Charles Woodson, who's an early contender for Defensive Player of the Year at the ripe old age of 39.
But assuming Roethlisberger improves on his performance, the onus will fall on second-year QB Derek Carr to keep up. He has the weapons; Rookie Amari Cooper is emerging as a legitimate No. 1 receiver and running back Latavius Murray is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this season. The Steelers' defense has allowed the 12th-most yards in the league as well.
This game could turn into a shootout, and six of our eight experts expect Pittsburgh to prevail. Six of CBS' eight prognosticators are picking the Steelers as well, while the home team is also a big favorite at ESPN.
|Ryan Van Bibber||Stephen White||Joel Thorman||David Fucillo||Danny Kelly||Matt Ufford||PFT Commenter||OddsShark|
|OAK vs. PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||OAK||OAK|
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SB Nation presents: How Le'Veon Bell went from unwanted to unstoppable