Pittsburgh Steelers(1-1SU,1-1ATS) vs.Oakland Raiders(0-2SU,0-2ATS)
Date/Time:Sunday, September 23rd, 2012/4:25 p.m. EST
Where:Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.
byBadger,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:Pit -4/Oak +4
Two of the NFLs most followed and most hated AFC franchises will get together for another Battle of the Black this Sunday, when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to the Black Hole of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to take on the Oakland Raiders in late afternoon action on CBS.
The Steelers notched their first victory of the season last weekend with a decisive, 27-10, win over the New York Jets at home in Heinz Field. QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 275 yards and two scores to help the Steelers pull away with 14 unanswered points in the second half, and the heralded Steel Curtain defense dominated the Jets holding them to 219 yards and 4-of-12 on third down to bring home the easy win.
Now Pittsburgh will take their 1-1 record on the road to Oakland, where the Silver and Black have stunk up the joint through the first two weeks of the season. The Raiders new-look offense with QB Carson Palmer and RB Darren McFadden together for the first time has been severely lackluster, scoring just 13 points in last weeks, 35-13, embarrassment in Miami.
After a 14-point dud on Monday Night Football in the opener, the new regime in Oakland will need to find a way to get the ball in the end zone against the Steelers this week and find it fast, or all may be lost in 2012 before it even gets going.
With Oaklands offense stuck in neutral, the bookmakers in Las Vegas decide to set the opening point spread with Pittsburgh as 5-point favorites on the road Sunday. The early steam on the large home underdog originally dropped the line to minus -4 at most sportsbooks, but now its rebounded and gone back up to Pittsburgh minus -4.5-points at few offshore books and a few of the properties out in Vegas.
The over/under total opened at 43.5 at a few offshore sportsbooks and can still be found that low at a few of them, but overall a majority of books are listing 44.5 as the current total on their boards.
Ive already taken the Raiders offense to task for their slow start this season, but I should be more specific and just call out the running game. With only 34 attempts in two games, its hard to blame McFadden though. The task to get the run game turned around and back to balanced is even harder this week because the Steelers continue to be one of the best in the NFL vs. the run. The Steelers even played without Troy Palamalu last week (calf) and it didnt seem to hurt them at all.
Pittsburgh is still without Rashard Mendenhall and is still a little dinged up on the line, so it might be hard for them to attack the weakness of the Oakland defense the Raider run defense. Oakland made Reggie Bush look like O.J. Simpson last week, allowing 263 yards to Miami in another turnover-less defensive game.
The Steelers crushed the Raiders in the last meeting between these two, back in 2010 by a 35-3 score at Heinz Field (covering 9-points). However, the last time they played in Oakland (2006) the Raiders prevailed, 20-13 (as 9-point dogs). All told, the series tilts in favor of the Steelers at 6-4 SU while being an even 5-5 ATS going back to the 1990 season.
The betting trends for this game are ugly. The underdog is 6-2 ATS in the last eight head-to-heads, but when you combine that with the Raiders 1-4-1 ATS record at home and it doesnt look so good. If you think the Steelers are the side, well youll have to look past their 0-5 ATS record in their last five road games away from Heinz Field.
Badger’sPick to Cover the Point Spread:Normally Im all over the home dog Raiders here, but they really havent done anything to make me want to part with some bankroll and back them this week. Either way, I do think the Raiders offense is going to find the end zone a few more times this week (by shear luck and the law of averages). Im taking the over of 44.5 in what I think turns into a 28-24 or 27-20 type of game. Take the over of 44.5.
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