The 4-4 Pittsburgh Steelers will host the 4-3 Oakland Raiders Sunday at Heinz Field and here are the six biggest storylines currently surrounding the Week 9 game.
Baby Cam wait? – The wife of Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward is due to have the couple’s first baby any day now. If the bundle of joy decides to come on Sunday, there’s a chance that Heyward might miss the game against the Raiders as it looks like he’s set on being present for the birth. Keep your fingers crossed that Baby Heyward waits until Monday or decides that later on today is a great day to be alive.
Tuitt to do it – The Steelers look like they will get defensive end Stephon Tuitt back in some capacity on Sunday. The former second-round draft pick missed the last two games with a sprained knee and you could certainly tell that the defense missed him. Hopes are that tuitt can pick up where he left off prior to injurying his knee as he really was playing well.
Oakland’s Killer C’s – The Steelers might have their Killer Bs in Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, but the Raiders have the Killer Cs. Quarterback Derek Carr and wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree all look to close out the first half of the season on a high note. Cooper and Crabtree have already combined to catch 78 passes for 1,040 yards and 6 touchdowns while Carr already has 15 touchdown passes so far this season and just 3 interceptions. The Raiders offense certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly by the Steelers defense Sunday at Heinz Field as that unit is really capable of putting up a lot of points in a short amount of time.
DeAngeload Part II – The Steelers lost starting running back Le’Veon Bell for the remainder of the season to a torn right MCL last Sunday and now the team must move on with veteran DeAngelo Williams as their primary ball carrier. This isn’t foreign territory for the offense, however, as Williams had to carry the load during the first two weeks of the season while Bell sat out serving his suspension. The Steelers don’t need Williams to be Bell, they just need him to be the player he’s been his entire career. If that happens, the offense should be just fine.
Mack trucking – Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack is certainly fun to watch on tape and there’s no doubt he’s living up to the expectations that came with him being drafted fifth-overall last year. The Buffalo product currently leads the Raiders in sacks with 4 and tackles for loss with 8 and he’s really made a few right tackles look silly so far this season, and that includes his play against the run. Sunday, Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert will be the one who will see Mack the most in the game and it figures to be the matchup to watch based on the fact that both really are playing well this season.
Jonesing for returns – The Steelers claimed veteran return man Jacoby Jones off waivers from the San Diego Chargers on Thursday with the hopes that he can immediately help in the kickoff return department. The Steelers offense certainly could stand to have a little bit better starting field position than what they’ve had over the course of the last one and a half seasons. Jones missed Friday’s practice, so assuming he dresses, his first return in the game will certainly be his first with his new team.