The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to enter their second leg of three consecutive home games at Heinz Field, and after suffering a devastating 16-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8, their hopes of being in the driver seat of the AFC Playoffs race could reside in their Week 9 game against the Oakland Raiders.
The 4-4 Steelers host the 4-3 Raiders Sunday for a 1 p.m. EDT kickoff, and despite the Raiders coming off a Week 8 victory over the New York Jets, the Raiders find themselves as underdogs against the slumping Steelers. Some might consider the Raiders having to travel across country for a 1 p.m. kickoff as a main factor in these early odds being slanted towards Pittsburgh, but the Steelers have only beaten the Raiders once in their last four meetings.
Regardless, the opening line of the game started with the Steelers as 6-point favorites to win, but have since settled at a 4.5-spread in favor of the home team.
The Steelers offense, even without Le'Veon Bell, still remains an elite unit with the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, DeAngelo Williams, Markus Wheaton, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. What might be more shocking is the Steelers' defense. Pittsburgh has played the top 3 offenses in the league in their first half of the 2015 season, and have held each team to their lowest total points scored to date.
The Raiders are a team brimming with young talent, whether it is Amari Cooper and Derek Carr, or Khalil Mack looking to put pressure on Roethlisberger. However, the Raiders have veterans infused throughout their roster, and none epitomizes this more than Charles Woodson who continues to get the job done in the twilight of his career.
This will be an extremely entertaining game, and will have severe ramifications for both teams in the AFC playoff picture with head-to-head tie breakers coming into play for these two AFC foes. Either way you look at it, the early odds show the Steelers to be favored, but the outcome of the game still considered to be a close result.