The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers escape the Black Hole with a win and end their losing streaks?
The Steelers are in Oakland today hoping to overturn a couple of concerning trends, one more immediate and the other more long-term. They have not won a game against the Raiders on the road since the mid-90s, and though they have only played three games there since, the Oakland teams that have beaten them have been rough.
They are also riding a two-game losing streak, both to teams in the AFC West, and are currently 0-3 against the division this year. They lost to the Kansas City Chiefs at home back in Week Two and then were taken down by the Denver Broncos at Mile High followed by the Los Angeles Chargers in Heinz Field over the past two weeks.
They wrap up their AFC West excursion today with a visit to Oakland and they would certainly like to end these streaks. It sounds easy enough on paper, considering that the Raiders are arguably the worst team in the league this year, but teams who should win lose games every week in the NFL.
Even last week the Raiders took the Chiefs down to the wire in a 33-30 loss, and it’s probably fair to say that Kansas City is a better team overall than are the Steelers this year. In spite of the fact that they have a very good road record over the past two seasons, it’s never easy to win in another team’s stadium.
While Sunday’s loss to the Chargers was certainly marred by the officiating, one of the biggest issues the team has had in the past two weeks has been ball security—too little of it on offense, and too much on defense. The turnover margin could be key yet again in today’s game.