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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders: Game Preview Part 1

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After last week's heartbreaking loss in OT to the Atlanta Falcons, the Steelers head to Oakland looking to regroup and make a push towards .500 and above. There are rarely 'gimme' wins in the NFL, especially on the road, but this may be one.

The Raiders are coming off a home victory against the hapless Arizona Cardinals, but I do not believe they match up well enough with Pittsburgh to make it two Ws in a row.

When Pittsburgh has the ball...

Our running game has been off and on this year. Willie Parker has three 100 yard games; but he's also been rendered ineffective in three others. Look for Willie and Dookie Davenport to have their numbers called plenty on Sunday. Why? Well, the Raiders are 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed , yielding 132.5 yards per game on the ground. These numbers would be even worse had the pathetic Arizona running game been able to muster more than 50 yards last week. Warren Sapp anchors the middle for the Raiders, but he's nowhere near the force he was while in his prime with Tampa Bay.

The Raiders don't have too many strengths on either side of the ball outside of their pass defense. The Raiders lead the league in pass defense, giving up only 140.5 yards per game, nearly twenty yards fewer than the next closest team. This number is a bit misleading though, mainly because the Raiders have rarely held a lead this season. Consequently, teams haven't gone to the air much against them, opting instead to milk the clock with a steady diet of running plays. That said, the Raiders do have some talent in their defensive backfield. The organization has been much derided for their decision to pass on Matt Leinart in favor of safety Michael Huff. Huff's been pretty good though, and will undoubtedly be a solid player in the league for years to come. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha leads the team with two interceptions.

It appears as if Big Ben is cleared and ready to play Sunday. Let's hope we protect him and minimize his exposure with a sturdy running attack. In the Raiders 4-3 scheme, outside DE Derrick Burgess provides the Raiders with their most formidable pass rush threat. Burgess leads the team with 5 sacks, putting him a tie for 11th for the league lead in sacks .

This is a bad defense, especially against the run. We better exploit it.