The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their second consecutive primetime game in Week 3, taking on the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday Night Football. If they have any hope of winning their first road matchup against the Raiders in the Mike Tomlin era, they’ll need to key in on these five players on the Raiders roster.
1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo has completed passes this season at a 72% clip, though with three touchdowns as well as three interceptions in the first two games, his play has also been somewhat erratic. Garoppolo knows how to manage an offense, but what has been standard in his play is failing in the clutch moments.
Against T.J. Watt and the rest of the Steelers defense, the Raiders are going to look to avoid putting Garoppolo in those situations by staying on schedule. If they come up with the right scheme, Garoppolo can carry it out with precision. The Steelers can’t allow that. Pressure, pressure, and more pressure usually results in good things for the Pittsburgh Steelers. If there isn’t any, Garoppolo will look to feast with the next Raider.
2. WR Davante Adams
Davante Adams is averaging six receptions at about 75 yards per game through the first two weeks of the season, making routine plays routinely. He and Jimmy Garoppolo have not yet started to connect on the big plays, but given the level of consistency they’ve shown, the next step is the big plays.
Allowing chunk yardage has been a problem for the Steelers defense against elite receivers, and Adams will be at the center of the Raiders' attempt to make big plays happen. Pittsburgh cannot allow Adams, who ranked third in the league in receiving yards in his first year with the Raiders, to get overly involved and take over the game.
3. DE Maxx Crosby
Raiders’ #98 Maxx Crosby is every bit as tenacious for the Raiders as T.J. Watt is for the Steelers defense. He is a motor that does not stop and will not stop until age decides otherwise. Though Crosby does not have the overall athletic ability and strength of Watt, he is every bit of a playmaker and the heart and soul of the Raiders' defense.
Similar to Pittsburgh in the first two games, the Raiders were run over by an elite Buffalo squad but won a tough division contest to start the season against the struggling Denver Broncos. Pittsburgh has its own struggles, especially offensively, and Crosby will be the one player on defense the team must account for on every play. Maxx is the player that looks to make a game-changing play every snap.
4. LB Robert Spillane
After manning the middle for the Steelers in the last four years, LB Robert Spillane is now making a name for himself out west. Currently leading his new team in tackles and a sack on the season, he has played well for his new team. This particular matchup might mean a little more to him, however; it always does when playing a former team.
Spillane will man the middle of the defense, while also knowing Pittsburgh’s tendencies. He will need to be accounted for, as the Steelers also know his tendencies as well, and should use that as a motivating factor while scheming their game plan to try and create some consistency on offense.
Who do you project to be the Raiders’ X-factor on Sunday Night Football? Join our Behind The Steel Curtain community and let us know in the comments!