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Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Time: 1 p.m. ET
The Pittsburgh Steelers welcome the upstart Oakland Raiders to Heinz Field on Sunday, for a 1 p.m. showdown between two teams hovering around .500 through eight weeks of the regular season.
While the Raiders appear to be trending in the right direction on both sides of the ball, the Steelers have been unable to sustain any semblance of a healthy roster in a trying 2015 regular season.
It’s shown on the field.
Now without star running back Le’Veon Bell, who was lost for the season with a torn MCL suffered in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers offense must readjust its lineup and its system to make up for the loss of the most dynamic running back in football.
When the (4-3) Oakland Raiders travel to the Steel City for a Week 9 showdown with the (4-4) Pittsburgh Steelers, they will have to defy NFL betting odds in order to extend their win streak to a season-best three games. That’s because NFL oddsmakers have Mike Tomlin and the Steelers defeating Jack Del Rio’s Raiders by a narrow margin, despite the fact that the visiting squad has plenty of reasons to feel good about their chances.
According to NFL point spreads for this AFC North vs. AFC West clash, the Steelers [-5] are listed as five-point favorites against a Raiders [+5] team that will enjoy a cushion of the same margin. The OVER/UNDER for this contest is set at a combined total of 48 points and straight-up money lines go as follows: Silver and Black [+170] vs. Steel Curtain [-200].
Oakland vs. Pittsburgh 2015 NFL Head-to-Head Stats
Before getting into each team’s individual ATS stats, it’s worth noting that the Raiders have lots of momentum on their side as an underdog bet. Pro-Oaktown figures dictate that the visiting Raiders are 5-1 in the last six meetings between these clubs, and that the betting underdog also has an identical (5-1) edge during that span.
Nevertheless, there’s one ATS trend that suggest betting on Pittsburgh isn’t such a bad idea at home, as the hosts are 4-1 against the spread the last five times the Raiders have invaded Heinz Field.
Heyward could miss Sunday’s game
Steelers star defensive end Cam Heyward and his wife are expecting the birth of their first child Sunday, which could put his status for Sunday’s game against Oakland in jeopardy.
Although the defensive end hasn’t said outright that he’d miss the game for the birth of his child, he did elude to it after practice earlier this week, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Mark Kaboly.
“I haven’t even thought about it that way,” he said. “I would love to be there for my son and I want to be there for the first time he comes into the world. I don’t think it will come to that (having the baby Sunday). I have my fingers crossed that the baby comes sooner rather than later.”
Latest Injury Report
Along with Terence Garvin, Wheaton, Spaeth and Bryant, James Harrison, William Gay and Heath Miller sat out of practice Wednesday. The trio of veterans was given the day off by head coach Mike Tomlin.
Bryant should be fine for Sunday, as he’s battling an illness and not an injury, but Wheaton and Spaeth could be game-time decisions.
Wheaton has had a tough year opposite of Brown, hauling in just 13 catches for 257 yards and one touchdown in 2015. With Tuitt, he is still dealing with the knee injury, so the blossoming defensive end is still working his way back into the lineup. He’ll be a player to monitor as the week progresses.
Full disclosure: The Raiders passing attack is tremendous and should scare Steelers Nation.
A.J. Green went for 11 receptions, 118 yards and one touchdown last week against Blake and Co. Amari Cooper could top that in this one.
Oakland also runs the ball very well as a team, led by Latavius Murray.
The Raiders whooped up on the Jets defense last week, so this one could be ugly for the members of the black and gold if the Steelers offense stumbles again this week. The good news is the offense should bounce back nicely and be able to keep up with the Raiders.
With no Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers offense will have to be on top of its game and they will. Even with a hobbled Roethlisberger and a patchwork offensive line the Steelers will find a way to win.
Steelers 30, Raiders 23