Dating back to 1970, the tradition-rich Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers have been at each other's throats over who is the NFL's hardest-hitting franchise. 53 years later and they get to go at it again, this time in Las Vegas.
They're meeting again because both team's finished with third place records in the 2022 season. They're also in the two toughest divisions in football. Baltimore is currently the only undefeated team left in the AFC, while Kansas City is looming and these two are searching for their best start since 2021(Las Vegas) and 2020, when the Steelers started 11-0.
Pittsburgh is coming off a prolific defensive showing in Week 2 on Monday night. They sacked Deshaun Watson six times and scored twice. The Raiders are backpedaling in after getting their doors blown off of them by an angry, vengeful Buffalo squad.
The good thing for Pittsburgh is it seems to be the same old, tired Raiders defense. The good thing for Las Vegas is the lethargic Pittsburgh offense led by lame-duck coach Mike Canada. It means something has to give for either one between two of the worst units the league has to offer. Canada is on the hot seat, just like Josh McDaniels and Patrick Graham are. The winner gets the joy of sleeping well for seven days.
The Steelers are averaging 16.5 a contest, but that number is skewed thanks to Monday night's win and should be more like 9.5. The silver and black are giving up 27 per game. Las Vegas is a slight favorite heading into Sunday according to covers.com, who uses seven different gambling sites to choose from.
Raiders have to take care of TJ Watt in this matchup
The gameplan for the Raiders has to be to double T.J. Watt as much as possible with an extra tight end or tackle, or at least chip him on pass plays. He's a pure game-wrecker. Alex Highsmith and Markus Golden are capable enough to get after the quarterback too, but not to the level of Watt. Before he turned 30, Watt has already become the Steelers all-time sack leader over names like Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, James Harrison and others.
The Raiders should be able to run the ball offensively. Jerome Ford and Christian McCaffrey broke off long touchdown runs respectively. Each went for over 100 yards and both San Francisco and Cleveland ran for nearly 200 yards as a whole. Brock Purdy, McCaffrey, Ford and Nick Chubb all averaged around 6.5 yards a carry or better.
This is a get right game for Josh Jacobs. He is entering the affair off of his worst rushing performance ever and since 2021 against Kansas City. He only had 44 yards in the narrow loss in the frigid Pittsburgh air last December. McDaniels has to get the run game going to take some pressure off of Jimmy Garoppolo and the defense to win.