May 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano (center) instructs during rookie minicamp at the Raiders team headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Analyzing the Raiders situation after the BYE week.

October 6, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen looks on from the sideline against the San Diego Chargers during the third quarter at Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After what seems to fans as a grueling and long week off of Raiders’ football, the organization and players are now being geared up to host the Steelers in what used to be “The greatest rivalry in football”. Those days are long over now, but even as the rivalry subsides, the Raiders’ tradition of winning against them hasn’t, as the Steelers have not won on Raider turf in over a decade. Last year’s meeting saw the disappointing 2012 squad led by Carson Palmer put on an excellent show as the Raiders rallied to beat the Steelers in an upset that only a Raiders fan could see coming. Now coming off of a period where the team received some much needed rest after the Kansas City game, the Raiders have some concerns heading into the showdown with the Steelers.

Steve Emtman once said that:

“Football is 80% mental and 40% physical”

This is true in many ways, first being that you always have to give 120% into your passions and anything you want to succeed in. The 80% mental part is significant because with the caliber of athletes in the NFL, what sets you apart is how you respond and act in different situations.

0-10. That is the record the Raiders have had the past ten years after the bye week. As we all know though, numbers lie. Last year the Raiders played what could be considered their best game to date against the then amazing Falcons squad. Their record this year, 2-4, is also a number that lies about the talent and strength of the team. While last year’s team was constantly blown out and not in the hunt to actually win many of their games,this year’s team has had the opportunity to win every one of their games, except the Denver game. The difference between 5-1 and 2-4 could very well be because of two things, Seabass’s unexplained unclutchness and Terrelle Pryor’s concussion. The Raiders have a daunting curse in front of them that will test their mental ability to shrug off meaningless statistics and facts.

Oct 6, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Terrelle Pryor may have the most mental stress on him right now, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to a game where he was sacked ten times and picked off three more times. It has been the greatest speed bump in his rapid development this year. He was reported working out with QB guru Tom House over the 4-day break that he was not allowed to work with the team and said that he spend hours studying footage after that. While we all know that Pryor’s work ethic is as good as they come, what really matters is his production on the field, keep a lookout for that come Sunday morning.

Physical ability is a gift that some people posses more of than others, this leads to teams wanting the best possible depth on their team, that is a team with the most consistent and impressive range of physical players that can step up where needed and it not be an issue. The offensive line was decimated by injuries this year, and was just laughable during the Kansas City game where they surrendered ten sacks to what is probably the most mobile quarterback in the league. The Raiders use the “next man up” philosophy, which is great and all…until there is no next man and you have to start players that have never taken a regular season snap before. Eventually the injuries will subside (hopefully) and the offensive line can have its building blocks from last year back.

The BYE week has left the Raiders with some challenges, both mental and physical heading into the game against the Steelers, this game with carry a great amount of significance in terms of how they respond to the tests and challenges. Leave in the comments below what you think are some pressing issues after the bye week, and remember, football isn’t all physical.

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