As families come together for the holidays and celebrate Christmas Eve, the Raiders will be in Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. We’ll preview this primetime match-up and get into who I’ll be backing as well.
It could have been a rocky holiday season for Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels if Las Vegas didn’t somehow pull out that win last weekend against the Patriots. It could be said New England’s incompetence lost them that game, and without it, the Raiders could have blown another game.
For the most part, this Raiders team possesses the talent to be a top offense in the NFL, and it’s no surprise they rank top ten in average points per game and are 11th in the NFL in average yards per game. Their lack of discipline has made a big difference in why this team only has six wins despite the talent. Las Vegas is 31st in the league in penalties and penalty yards a game, so they have consistently been their own worst enemy.
The Raiders' defense has shown flashes of ability, but they have struggled to put it together for an entire game. For example, last weekend, the Raiders held the Patriots to three points in the first half but allowed 21 points in the second half. Las Vegas won’t be up against a juggernaut offense this weekend, so we’ll see if they can put two solid halves together.
The Steelers' offense will get quarterback Kenny Pickett back tonight, but no matter who has been at quarterback this season, the offense has yet to produce consistently. Pittsburgh is ranked 26th in average yards per game and 24th in average passing yards a game.
Strength-wise, the Steelers' defense has the ability to shut down running back Josh Jacobs as they rank seventh in the league in average rushing yards allowed per game with 109 yards. The battle in the trenches with the Steelers' front seven will play a huge factor since Jacobs is averaging 115.9 yards per game.
Las Vegas can be found as +2.5 point underdogs, and they’re my best bet for the game. The Raiders still have the offensive talent that Pittsburgh can’t match, especially in the passing game, and I think the Raiders can do enough on that end to even win the game outright.
The Steelers' defense is 24th in the league in opponent passing yards a game, and they have allowed the third most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. With Davante Adams and now a healthy Darren Waller, the Raiders have a real chance to find a lot of success through the air in this one. This is success that I don’t think Kenny Pickett and the Steelers can keep pace with.
On offense, the Steelers are 17th in the league in sack percentage, so Maxx Crosby and his 11.5 sacks can play a significant factor in this one. If Las Vegas can put two solid halves of defense together, then the Raiders have a lot of value as underdogs tonight.
Las Vegas Raiders (+2.5)